First collected edition – parts 3 and 4 are in first edition with the dates 1692 and 1696 – of the famous “Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns”, major work of Charles Perrault. The 4th volume is here one of the very few with the date 1696, the usual date being 1697.
Scheler (V, p. 169) mentions: “I’ve seen a copy of ‘Parallel between ancients and moderns’ of which part 4 was dated M.DC.LXXXXVI (1696). It contained, bound at the end, an errata entitled ‘Mistakes to correct’, printed on a separate leaf”; case of the present copy.
This first edition presents the integrality of the polemical writings that Perrault launched in a quarrel who would inflame all the literary environment of his time and extend during all the 18th century, up to Condorcet, op to the Genius of Christianity.
This founding text is so important that we will describe its genesis and its outcome.
The Classics or Ancients led by Boileau sustained a conception of literary creation as an imitation of the authors of antiquity. This thesis was based on the idea that Greek and Roman antiquity had reached once and for all the artistic perfection.
The Moderns, represented here by Charles Perrault, who supported the merit of the authors of the century of Louis XIV, affirmed on the contrary that the authors of Antiquity were not impassable, and that the literary creation had to innovate. They advocated a literature adapted to the contemporary times and new artistic forms.
Perrault triggered hostilities on January 27, 1687, when he presented, on the occasion of a cure of Louis XIV, to the French academy his poem The century of Louis the Great in which he praised the time of Louis XIV as ideal while calling into question the function of the model of Antiquity.
The output of Perrault immediately provoked a protest from Boileau. The controversy swelled with the publication by Perrault of the four volumes “Parallel of the Ancients and the Moderns” where he attacks the ancients by comparing in a fictional dialogue the achievements of the ancients with the modern achievements in almost every aspect of human life.
Even with the exhaustion of the conflict, The repercussions of the quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns continued to be felt during the Enlightenment and continued until the quarrel aroused by Romanticism.
Precious copy in contemporary binding, with the fourth volume from the first issue of 1969, unknown to Tchemerzine who only gave the date of 1697.
L. Scheler, in his commentaries and addendum, announces that he saw a copy of this first edition similar to this one: “part IV is dated 1696 and contains, bound at the end, an errata entitled ‘Mistakes to correct’ printed on a separate leaf on thicker paper.”
This part IV contains, in addition, a full-page plate representing “L’Arbre de Porphyre augmenté d’un degré métaphysique”.
Charles Perrault wrote two great books: “Mother Goose Tales” Paris, 1697 and “Parallel between Ancients and Moderns” Paris, 1688-1696.
We are aware of about ten complete copies of the first edition of the first issue of “Mother Goose Tales” and little more copies of the “Quarell of the Ancients and the Moderns” complete with its last volume dated 1696.
Precious copy preserved in its strictly contemporary binding, with, a particularly rare fact, absolutely identical tools on the three first volumes.
Bibliography : Hubert Gillot, La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes en France: De la Défense et Illustration de la langue française aux Parallèles des anciens et des modernes. Paris: Champion, 1914. Augustin Simon Irailh, Querelles littéraires, ou Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des révolutions de la république des Lettres, depuis Homère jusqu’à nos jours. Paris: Durand, 1761. Slatkine reprints, 1967. Anne-Marie Lecoq, La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes : xviie-xviiie siècles. Précédé d’un essai de Marc Fumaroli, suivi d’une postface de Jean Robert Armogathe. Paris: Gallimard, 2001. Alain Niderst, « Les « Gens de Paris » et les « Gens de Versailles » dans Louise Godard de Donville », d’un siècle à l’autre : anciens et modernes. XVIe colloque, Janvier 1986. Paris: Éd. du CNRS, 1987. (Centre Méridional de Rencontres sur le XVIIe siècle ; 17) pp. 159-165. Hippolyte Rigault, Histoire de la querelle des anciens et des modernes. Paris: Hachette, 1856. Marc Fumaroli, La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes + extraits, Paris, Gallimard-Folio, 2001.