1787 · [Amsterdam
Mercier's utopian novel, originally published in 1771 and set in the far-off future of 2440, prophesies an advanced, progressive Paris (and indeed an entire world) in which slavery has been abolished and education, medicine, religion, politics, and the justice system have all been reimagined and reformed, while women have been cured of coquetry (along with the pains of childbirth and the desire to marry for love!). The "brave" Americans are particularly cited for having advanced the causes of liberty and republicanism, with => Philadelphia being praised among their "cités les plus belles, les plus florissantes" (III, 31).
An extremely popular work (it went through 25 editions after its first appearance in 1771), the work describes the adventures of an unnamed man, who, after engaging in a heated discussion with a philosopher friend about the injustices of Paris, falls asleep and finds himself in a Paris of the future.
Though condemned by French and Spanish authorities and => forbidden by the Inquisition, the work was nonetheless a roaring success in Europe, going through numerous editions in multiple languages — and serving as a groundbreaking, genre-defining example of a futuristic paradise set in a real-world location. The present example is an unidentified imprint of the greatly expanded three-volume text of 1786, followed by Mercier's allegorical L'homme de fer. Wilkie suggests that this "nouvelle édition avec figures" was printed by Changuion in Amsterdam; each of the three books of the main work opens with its own tipped-in engraved plate, making this => one of the earliest illustrated editions.
Wilkie, Mercier's L'An 2440, 1787. Not in Brunet, not in Graesse. Contemporary mottled sheep, spine with raised bands, gilt-stamped leather title-label, and gilt-tooled compartment decorations; spine and edges much rubbed, with spine extremities chipped. Front and back pastedowns with traces of red wax adhesions; endpapers with offsetting from turn-ins. Minor age-toning throughout; one page with early inked annotation. Though battered, a solid, early, nicely illustrated example of this landmark work. (Inventory #: 38525)