First Nonesuch Press edition of Voltaire's The Princess of Babylon
The Princess of Babylon.
Voltaire (Arouet, François-Marie)..$30.00
Item Number: 96517
London: The Nonesuch Press, 1927.
First Nonesuch Press edition of Voltaire’s fine romance. Octavo, bound in one quarter vellum over marbled boards with gilt titles to the spine, top edge gilt, engraved frontispiece and device to the title page, illustrated. In near fine condition.
“One of Voltaire’s finest romances”, The Princess of Babylon relays the story of the beautiful Formosanta, who travels the world in search of her lover Amazan (Barron, Fantasy Literature I:88). Subtle in its philosophy, Voltaire breaks narrative conventions in this novella to foster Enlightenment values and in the process also “pokes fun at a number of literary traditions” (Pearson, Fables of Reason 196). The novella saw instant success upon publication and was in such demand that it was being illegally pirated in England, and printed under a false imprint of ‘Geneva’ when it was actually printed in London. Founded in 1922 in London by Francis Meynell, his second wife Vera Mendel, and their mutual friend David Garnett, The Nonesuch Press was established in the basement of Garnett's bookshop in Soho. Nonesuch was unusual among private presses in that it used a small hand press to design books and then had them printed by commercial printers. Among the press's best-known editions were the collected works of William Congreve and William Wycherley and translations of Cervantes and Dante.