First collective and complete edition of the Works by Racine, and the last one corrected, revised and given by the author.
“It fixes the final text of his work”. (Tchemerzine, V, p. 360).
We find joined in it Esther, Athalie and Les Cantiques spirituels, plays that weren’t in the previous editions.
Jules le Petit (Bibliographie des éditions originales françaises) describes it this way: “This excellent edition is the last one that was given by Racine, and it fixed the text of any posterior editions. It is also the first one to be complete, and in which ‘Esther’ and ‘Athalie’ were inserted with a following pagination. It has no general foreword, nor have the previous editions, but only forewords for each play. In 1687 already, the same booksellers had published an edition in which ‘Phèdre’ had appeared, following the pagination of the second volume. This intermediary edition has less importance than the 1697 one, obviously revised by Racine, who slightly changed the text in a few places and changed the spelling of certain words. However the one of 1697 was printed almost entirely according to the other. The spelling differences are especially visible at the end of the words ending by the syllable ui or uy: in the 1687 edition, we write for instance ‘ouy, luy, celuy, ennuy, aujourd’huy’, etc... Racine deleted a few verses in the 1697 edition, in the first two acts of the ‘Thébaïde’ and in the last two of ‘Bajazet’. The foreword of this last play offers differences with the one of the previous edition, and a page at the end has been removed. The 2nd part of the 1697 edition includes corrections made by cancels after the issue, in eleven places, in pages 146, 163, 172, 273, 407, 427-428, 451, 471-472, 503. This is 9 boarded leaves, only containing typographical corrections or insignificant changes of incorrect words. These cancels are distinguishable from the primitive leaves by the words Tome II at the bottom, which can only be found in the course of the volume at the bottom of the first leaf of each quire.”
A precious copy presenting the first issue of the text before the 11 cancels notified by the bibliographers, the mention “tome II” missing from the bottom of the incriminated leaves. Thus it presents the original text and without cancels.
The edition is illustrated with two frontispieces, one signed by C. Le Brun and with 12 copper-engravings, one for each play, most of them signed by Chauveau.
A beautiful copy very well preserved in its contemporary binding. The first editions of Racine’s Work in contemporary binding have always been appreciated by bibliophiles.