Geneva: Gabriel Cramer, 1759. First Edition. full calf. 1st edition (in French), 1st printing anywhere, preceding the 17 other editions published in 1759 (all of them superficially alike). Rare. The census records 20 or so genuine copies, a number akin to the 1865 Alice in Wonderland. Contemporary full French calf, gilt decorated spine, the final blank (N7) and the binder’s instructions (N8) are not bound with this copy, as is both proper and usual, the instructions routinely meant to be deliberated and then discarded before sewing, along with its companion blank. The publisher’s cancels (B4–B9 and D6–D7) are present, again, as is proper and usual, agreeing in all respects to what you would have received, if you had purchased a copy in sheets, on publication day, and handed them over to the most local Swiss bindery. Short hairline split at the end of 1 joint, a few minute points of wear cunningly detailed, else nearly fine, never rebacked, authentic as winter weather, captivating beyond discerning expectations, a copy just as you’d want it, and Candide endures as the Romanée Conti of French literature. Reference: Printing and the Mind of Man 204, one of only a dozen or so novels included with their greatest books from the history of Western civilization. near fine. Item #37
Here is a real book looking for a real collector, and I remember those days when I was a collector, and I’d have prized this book every day I owned it, but, while book collecting was the maiden I loved, bookselling was the whore I married. Late 20th century analysis of the various 1759 editions has irrefutably determined that this one (published by the Cramers in Geneva), is the real 1st edition, with all the myriad points necessary to identify it, and to differentiate it, from all of its contemporaries as well as all of the facsimiles. This 1st printing has Voltaire’s last second revisions eliminating an unnecessary paragraph break on page 31, rewriting a few lines about the Lisbon earthquake on page 41, (related to the B4 to B9 cancels) and eliminating a paragraph critical of German poets on page 242. These changes are not found, for example, in the 1759 London edition, which was copied from an early set of stolen Geneva proofs (those proofs having a text setting that was prior to the revisions), but earlier text or not, this Geneva edition was published prior to the London edition). Similar convolutions abound with the other 1759 editions, but, the sorting out, and prioritization, are now untangled beyond contention. Candide abides as the epitomic tour de force, steadier than the north polar star. It’s the philosophical fable of the French Enlightenment, and the genotype of irony without exaggeration, and it sings out, in an angelic voice, that light hearts live long. Repeat after me, and remember it well. Light hearts live long!