Das Fräulein von Scuderi [Mademoiselle de Scudéri]
Frankfurt: Wilmans, 1819 . First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition (in German). The 1st appearance anywhere in Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1820–Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet [Dr. St. Schütz]. 12 illustrated poems on unnumbered pages at the front, then Hoffmann’s novella is printed on pages 1–122. The remaining 208 pages are additions by others (an almanac). Contemporary full morocco, bound as a leather lined wallet with a pocket and pencil sheath at the back, mirror green endpapers, aeg, 3 little chips to the flap, some small worn spots, frontispiece with one tideline, still very good, complete, the pages white, a little jewel of a book, and rarer than someone who is exactly like their online persona. ABPC lists no auction sales in the last 47 years, OCLC lists just 2 copies in libraries (Waseda and Emory), and though we have always looked for it, we have only had it once before (the copy now at Emory). Coll: Frontis + (6) + 24 pages + 12 monthly plates + 330, pages + 5 plates. Very good. Item #803
The notion that Poe invented the detective story in 1841 from the air is a canard (the wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead). What he did invent was C. Auguste Dupin, out to prove (and explain) his method of analysis. What Poe imitated was an amateur who takes up a Paris murder to save a wrongly charged man. Madeleine de Scudéri (a 50–something poetess) develops a theory (induction) in an earlier series of Paris murders because of compassion for the victims, then tests her theory (deduction) to rescue a falsely charged man, but she regards herself less seriously than Dupin and feels no need to openly demonstrate her methods (Poe read this tale in translation and was inspired). So, we ask, is the detective story about unraveling crimes, or is it about subtleties surrounding the detective’s motivation? Brush off Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex (429 B. C.), The Three Apples (The Arabian Nights, ca. 1,000 AD), Voltaire’s philosophical comedy Zadig (1747) even with some puzzle solving, and all the other pretenders, and we will give you 3 convincing supports for the preeminence of our novella in the detective chronology. 1. A series of unexplained murders occur at the beginning, continue, and are resolved at the end. 2. There is an innocent suspect, and the real killer is a character in the story but is unsuspected. 3. The innately reluctant detective is naturally curious, and though she is not a private investigator or the police, she, like Agatha Christie’s Miss. Marple, mostly draws on interviews and conversations, and her meddling leads her to untangle the facts. And the clues, inquiries, discovery. reasoning, and the resolution are clear, orderly, and plausible. Works for us.