‘THE WORST VERSIFIER AND THE MOST TIRESOME WRITER’
NADAL, [Augustin,] Abbé.
Herode: Tragedie nouvelle.
Paris, Pierre Ribou, 1709.
12mo in 6s, pp. , 64, with copper-engraved frontispiece by L. Despaces after H. Roussel; woodcut ornament to title, woodcut head-pieces and initials, typographic ornaments throughout; very slight spotting, light rubbing to lower corner of frontispiece (not affecting image); a very good copy, stab-sewn in contemporary limp vellum, modern ink lettering to spine; contemporary manuscript note to title (‘à P. Gaudron le jeune un frontispice’), ink stamp ‘Bibliotheque Amédée Marandet’ to upper cover, twentieth-century private collector’s bookplate to upper pastedown.
US $339 €317
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Herode: Tragedie nouvelle.
First edition of Nadal’s tragedy on King Herod, the second in the series of Biblical plays over which he quarrelled with Voltaire.
Having found moderate success with Saül and Hérode, Augustin Nadal (1659–1741) tried to capitalise on Voltaire’s failed play Mariamne, a tragedy of Herod’s wife which closed after one performance in 1724, by producing his own version of the subject early the following year. When his own Mariamne was met with boos from the audience and demands to see Voltaire’s instead, Nadal blamed Voltaire and – in the preface to the printed edition – alleged that his rival had orchestrated the hostile response. Voltaire soon after revised his play as Hérode et Mariamne and, in a pseudonymous letter laced with sharp sarcasm, named Nadal ‘the most awful versifier of the century and the most tiresome writer’ (trans.).
Provenance: from the library of Amédée Marandet (d. 1925), the actor, playwright, and historian of French theatre. Over four thousand plays from his collection, spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, are held by the University of Warwick.
OCLC finds three copies in the US (Bowdoin, Harvard, Yale) and Library Hub only two in the UK (BL and Bodley).
See Carlson, Voltaire and the Theatre of the Eighteenth Century (1998), pp. 16-17.
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