Important acquisitions

Les jeux, caprices, et bizarreries de la nature. Par l'Auteur de Ma Tante Genevieve.

Author Dorvigny, M.
Title Les jeux, caprices, et bizarreries de la nature. Par l'Auteur de Ma Tante Genevieve.
Imprint Paris: Barba, Libraire, Palais-Royal
Date of Publication 1808
Language French
Notes This is a rare copy of the first edition of Les jeux, caprices et bizzarreries de la nature, a novel by the French author Louis-François Archambault (1742-1812) . Better known by his stage name, Dorvigny, and rumoured an illegitimate son of Louis XV, this prolific author first became famous as actor and playwright, creator of the famous characters 'Janot' and 'Jocrisse'. This novel, whose leading characters are the Scottish 'Sir Jakson Makdonnal' and his family, is a light-hearted tale centred on characters who illustrate the 'games, caprices and peculiarities of nature': 'Sir Jakson', for instance, has the ears of a wild boar, and his French valet the tail of a deer. These peculiarities, never explained or mocked, drive the story, as Sir Jakson leaves Scotland first for Paris and then for America: the bulk of the book consists of his adventures there with his brother's daughter 'Miss Makdonnal' (who has horns) and a tribe of Iroquois Indians. Realism is not the point of this fictional representation of Scotland and Scottish characters, produced just before Scott's novels spread through Europe. Although at one point Sir Jakson's bearded great-niece returns to Scotland and spends time contemplating 'the rural and romantic location of her principal manor, surrounded by woods and mountains' (Vol. III, page 95), she is easily persuaded by another character to leave this 'savage solitude' and visit France, 'country of all kinds of liberty' - but not until she has erected a memorial chapel to her uncle, complete with priest to say Mass for his soul every day (pages 102-3). To a modern reader, the main interest of this book probably lies in the last section, where the bearded heroine, forced to disguise herself as a man, becomes romantically involved with a girlish youth raised to wear female clothes, and they happily live like this till a bout of smallpox restores both to the normal appearance of their genders and they can get respectably married.
Shelfmark RB.s.2739
Reference Sources Charles Monselet: Oublies et dedaignes: figures litteraires de la fin du 18E siecle (1861); bookseller's catalogue.
Acquired on 27/01/09
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