“First edition” (Dufour, I, n° 89) of the « Recueil d’Estampes pour la Nouvelle Héloïse » here printed on large Dutch paper; “first edition offered for sale in France” (Tchemerzine, V, p. 538) and “first French edition of La Nouvelle Heloise” printed by the bookseller Robin in Paris upon M. de Malesherbes’s injunction.
Two editions of La Nouvelle Heloise were simultaneously printed, one, the first edition, in Amsterdam by Marc Michel Rey, the other in Paris by the bookseller Robin.
Rousseau presents in his Confessions (book X) that when La Nouvelle Héloïse was printed in Holland (at Marc-Michel Reys’s), M. de Malesherbes, censor of the library of France, only allowed the broadcast of the Dutch edition in the kingdom after the exhaustion of an edition he had ordered in Paris (by the bookseller Robin), in favour of the author, “despite myself”, says Rousseau. […] While the Recueil des Planches has been for sale in Paris, at the beginning of March 1761, the six volumes of La Nouvelle Héloïse (Ed. Robin) have been in February. But Marc-Michel Rey’s first edition was already for sale in Germany, in Holland, in London and in Switzerland starting on December 20th 1760 (Rey’s to Rousseau on December 30th 1760). It is what explains that the Journal Helvétique, published in Neuchatel, gives and answers, on February 1761, an answer to an article dedicated to the Nouvelle Héloïse and was published the previous month.
In Paris, the Mercure de France of March 1761 (p. 101) inserted this advertisement:
“Both editions which have been in fact made almost at the same time, one in Paris & the other one in Holland, have barely satisfied the public’s enthusiasm, who reads it with as much pleasure as eagerness”.
“The success of the New Heloise was great, especially in aristocratic circles : according to the author himself, all the delicacy and tact that we can only acquire with the education of the great world was required to get the subtlety of which the work is made of. ‘The New Heloise’ undertakes the exaltation of love and friendship, very dear ‘idols’ to Rousseau’s heart, through two ideal characters the author is pleased to give the attractive image of virtue. This novel encloses descriptive pages full of a remarkable freshness and already containing, beside a subjective vision of the ‘landscape’, all the elements that will stage later the romantics of the entire world, among others Chateaubriand and Lamartine, Mme de Staël and Georges Sand. We find in it previous influences, from ‘La Princesse de Clèves’ to ‘Clarisse Harlowe’, as well as ‘Marianne’ from Marivaux and the ‘Manon Lescaut’ of the abbé Prevost. As for the contemporaries, they tastes in the ‘New Heloise’ not only the unfortunate love account, but also the dissertations on the most different political, religious, philanthropic, pedagogical subjects, developed with the sentimental emphasis specific to the tastes of the time. With the ‘Emile, this novel contributed to create around Rousseau this revolutionary reputation, that has him expelled successively from France and then Switzerland, obliging him to take refuge in England; which was absolutely not the reason of the great and fast success he got for the New Heloise.”
A very beautiful copy of this very rare edition, complete with the 47 pages and 12 fine etchings of the « Recueil d’estampes » here in first edition and in first issue, covered with elegant bindings signed by Chambolle-Duru.