DIDEROT (Denis).

Lot 23
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Estimation :
4000 - 5000 EUR
DIDEROT (Denis).
The Natural Son, or The Proofs of Virtue. Comedy in five acts, and in prose, with the true history of the play. Amsterdam, s.n., 1757. In-8, marbled calf, triple gilt fillet, coat of arms in the centre, spine decorated, repeated arms (alerion and lion rampant), red title page, red edges (period binding).
First edition of Diderot's first play.
The play, composed in 1756 and whose plot is based on the story of Goldoni's True Friend (1750), was very little performed and had no success. Its publication (February 1757) was nevertheless a milestone in the history of the theatre, since it was in the Entretiens sur Le Fils naturel, a speech published after the text of the play and which is presented as an extension of the play, that Diderot expounded the theory of the "bourgeois drama", an intermediate genre between comedy and tragedy, through which he intended to revolutionize the idea and practice of the theatre.
An important copy bearing the coat of arms of Charles II Francois Frédéric de Montmorency-Luxembourg (1702-1764), Peerage and Marshall of France. It is evocative of the definitive quarrel between Rousseau and the Encyclopaedists.
The marshal was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's protector: it was he who, after the philosopher's dispute with Madame d'Épinay, sheltered him in a small outbuilding of his estate from December 1757 until that famous night in June 1762 when the author of Emile left in a hurry to take refuge in Switzerland.
As for Diderot's play, which Rousseau had in his hands and read attentively, it precipitated the rupture between the two men: Since my establishment at the Hermitage, Diderot had not ceased to harass me there [...]. After the publication of the Fils naturel, he had sent me a copy, which I had read with the interest and attention that one gives to the works of a friend. When I read the sort of poetic dialogue he has appended to it, I was surprised and even a little annoyed to find, among several disparaging but tolerable remarks against solitaries, this harsh and hard sentence, without any softening: Only the wicked are alone. [...] I loved Diderot dearly; I esteemed him sincerely [...]. But fed up with his tireless obstinacy in eternally antagonizing me about my tastes, my inclinations, my way of life [...] I already had a heart full of his many wrongs (The Confessions).
Skilful restorations to the binding (corners, head and spine).
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