1714 · Paris
12mo. Contemporary calf, gilt spine. Upper corners restored, spine extremities chipped, joints a bit worn,but a very good and clean copy. Leaf of half title, verso blank; leaf of title, verso blank; 3pp. preface; pp.iv-xxxii Histoire; pp. 1-319 text; 3pp. approbation and privilege; 2pp. ads; engravings opposite pp. 1, 199,284, 319. Collation: 2, é12, ď2, , A-N12, O6. Four engravings by Jean Crépy (Barbier II, 611).
Henry Duc des Vandales is an historical novel taken from the “creative” translation by Matteo Bandello(ca. 1480-1562) of Histoires Tragiques by François de Belleforest (1530-1583). There is a 1737 edition ofthe novel also published by Prault as part of her collected editions.
As a novelist, Catherine Durand was relatively popular in her time. Her best known novel is Les BellesGrecques; ou, L’Histoire des plus fameuses courtisanes de la Grčce. Et dialogues nouveaux des galantesmodernes (Paris: Saugrain and Prault, 1712). Historian Joan DeJean claims that another novel La Comtessede Mortane (1699) alone should “guarantee her rescue from oblivion. . .” (23).
Almost nothing is known of Catherine Durand. She wrote under Madame D***, Mademoiselle D***, andM. D. [as here]. Durand wrote with an anonymity that leaves her oeuvre difficult to document. We knowneither when she was born nor when she got married. It is said that she always used her maiden nameDurand (rather than her married name Bédacier) when publishing her works because she had begun herliterary career prior to marriage.
Most historians agree that women writers of France in the 17th and 18th centuries are overlooked becauseof a lack of biographical interest from a society that degraded or discouraged the literary abilities of women.DeJean writes, “Basic biographical questions cannot be answered to the point where there is little future ofactually studying these women. These realities prevent an accurate picture of the publication history ofthese women writers. This is a priceless heritage that should not be left largely untapped” (24). DeJeanincludes Durand in her “roll-call of great, neglected Frenchwomen writers of the long eighteenth century”(24), and Durand is also mentioned as one of the significant novelists at the beginning of that epoch.
According to Perry Gethner, “Only one date in Durand’s biography is certain: in 1701 she won the annualpoetry prize of the French Academy for an ode praising Louis XIV for displaying both the qualities of awell-bred man of the world and the talents of a king. . . . Her output consists of a small number of shortpoems, an opera libretto that she deemed unfinished, two sets of works in dialogue form reproducing salonentertainments of the time . . . and a variety of novels, with either historical or contemporary settings.Several of the novels contain fairy tales, a literary form that rose to popularity in France during the finaldecade of the seventeenth century and of which most of the early practitioners were women active in thesalons” (237).
Although forgotten now, Durand’s popularity at the time is indicated by the four fine engravings that Praultincluded in the original edition of Henry Duc des Vandales. Expensive engravings were not often includedin novels unless the edition was expected to sell well. The engravings were done by Jean Crépy or Crespy(1680-ca. 1739). Jean Crépy was active as an engraver and publisher at the end of the 17th and beginningof the 18th century on rue St. Jacques a St. Pierre in Paris. His son, Etienne-Louis Crépy (ca. 1700-1759),was also an engraver and publisher, specializing in maps and geographical prints. Another son, Louis, wasalso active in the publishing trade and specialized in imaginary and optical prints.
Reference: DeJean, Joan. “And What About French Women Writers?” The Eighteenth Century 50, no. 1(Spring 2009): 21-24; Gethner, Perry [ed., trans.]. Challenges to Traditional Authority: Plays by FrenchWomen Authors, 1650-1700 (2015).
Locations: OCLC: BDF, DESWL, UKM, BLSTP, BNM.
No North American Locations.Rare. (Inventory #: 1288)