First edition of legendary rarity of Port-Royal’s famous grammar.
Ruble, n°104; Barbier, II, 554; Destailleur, I, p. 230, n°978; Brunet, II, 1692.
Written by Lancelot, but inspired by le Grand Arnauld, the « grammaire de Port-Royal » is one of the most famous texts in the history of the linguistic theories.
Even though it is not without precedent and that we can trace its sources until the medieval speculative grammar, it constitutes the first important presentation of a scientific program which will predominate in the Europe of Enlightenment, until the comparative grammar will challenge it. Language is the expression of the spirit that corresponds in every man to a universal structure. Rules that govern words depend on the rules that manage ideas that these words express. Then, every language grammar has a rational fund that makes it similar to logic; it’s then according to their logic the Gentlemen of Port-Royal will expose their theory of verbs and incidental propositions.
This first edition is so rare that no copy appeared on the international public market for more than 35 years.
An admirable copy, maybe the most precious ever known, entirely ruled, contemporary and elegantly bound in red morocco by Luc-Antoine Boyet, for one of the 3 inquiring people identified, Jérôme Duvivier (1660 ≈ 1720) with his autograph signature at the bottom of the title.
It is in the environment of the “inquiring” Parisians, at the very end of the 17th century, that bindings especially made to cover rare books appeared.
Du Vivier knows the Duke du Maine, his “neighbor” at the Arsenal, and also the Prince de Conti. He is also known to be La Fontaine’s friend. A letter of the later to the Prince de Conti – who shared Duvivier’s passion for Chinese and Japanese ceramic – makes an allusion in a pleasant tone to the precious statuettes that live in his office: “We were talking about it, Du Vivier and I (…). We made very specious wishes in your favor. They were heard only by a few Chinese idols”.
From 1698, then in the editions of 1706 and 1717, Brice quotes him as one of the most inquiring Parisian, and the seven salons of his apartment at the Arsenal became a must-seen place for people of good taste.