12mo., pp. , 286, [2, advertisements]; a few stains but generally a very good copy in nineteenth-century half dark brown morocco and marbled boards, a little worn.
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Le Paysan parvenu: or, the fortunate Peasant. Being Memoirs of the Life of Mr. ––––. Translated from the French … London: Printed for John Brindley … Charles Corbett … and Richard Wellington … 1735.
First edition in English, originally published in French in the Hague in 1734-5. This is the second of the two important novels by Marivaux, which broke new ground in the art of writing fiction. ‘Where La Vie de Marianne belongs to the moralizing and sentimental romance tradition, Le Paysan is a cynical comic novel of the way of the world, though both stories are full of subtle psychological observations. The tale is told in later life by the unashamed and good-humoured hero Jacob, who has risen from his peasant origins to a wealthy and respectable position as a tax-farmer thanks to his resourceful wit and his physical attractions. He profits amorally from the affections of a series of (usually older) women, some of them with reputations for piety; these adventures are recounted in a spirited style, with a sharp eye for the hypocrisy of the respectable’ (New Oxford Companion to Literature in French).
The work bears some affinities to the novels of Richardson, and to Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, works that were to transform English fiction in the course of the next decade. This anonymous translation contains the first four parts only of the French text; a fifth part appeared in 1735, and an anonymous continuation in three further parts in 1736, but these later parts were not translated at the time.
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