12mo in 6s, pp. 72, [1 (blank)], with engraved frontispiece; slight marginal toning, marginal paper-flaw to title; a very good copy, uncut in contemporary pink wrappers, manuscript title and date to upper wrapper; worn, spine and lower corner neatly repaired.
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La destinée d’une jolie femme, poème érotique, en six chants, par J.B… de M…
First and only edition, very scarce, of this humorous moralising tale of love and loss in verse, intended for a female readership and hidden under the ‘transparent veil’ of erotic poetry.
Divided into six chants, we follow the fifteen-year-old Lise throughout the course of her life; innocent but uninterested in her ‘talentless’ husband, she is seduced by the rather dishonourable Linval; after a month-long affair, he writes her a callous letter in which he says that he, like the seasons, is incapable of stasis, the narrator reminding readers that one is more likely to catch a wave than to hold down a French courtier. La destinée d’une jolie femme traces the trajectory of Lise’s corruption and redemption, from her unsuccessful attempts to seek solace in the written word (finding Voltaire too cold, Montaigne too dull, and Racine unoriginal) to an assortment of affairs and flirtatious encounters; repenting at the age of sixty, she ultimately abandons her vanity (and rouge) for a life of quiet devotion.
The preface suggests that the present work was composed in 1789 and ought to be followed by a companion work in which the protagonist is a moral wife, mother, and friend, and thus a foil to Lise, though we know of no such work. Perhaps Murat’s aim was made sufficiently clear in his final lines: if members of the fairer sex should find his writing misleading, they are advised to first examine their own hearts.
OCLC finds only three copies worldwide (BnF, Montpellier, and Princeton).
Barbier I, no. 3584; Gay I, col. 875; not in Pia.