May 27, 2011

Le Voeu d'une morte : an Emile Zola's novel wrote in his youth

Zola in 1865
In 1899 Emile Zola agreed to reprint with his usual publisher Charpentier an early work, Le Voeu d'une morte (The Vow of a dead woman). First released in serial in Le Figaro Villemessant in September 1866, this novel was published for the first time, the same year, by Achille Faure. The plot moves forward on a misunderstanding : Daniel Raimbault receives from his dying benefactress, Blanche de Rionne, the task to watch over the daughter of the latter, Jeanne. She becomes an adult, gets married. Then widow, Jeanne receives anonymous and passionate letters secretly sent by Daniel. Jeanne believes the letters are from a mutual friend, George (you can read the entire novel in french here). Success is not at the rendezvous. It must be said that this was a commissioned work that the author accepted just to do some cash. He wrote in 1889 about the reprint by Charpentier :
I decided to make it public, not for its merit, certainly, but for the interesting comparison the literature wonderers may be tempted to do one day, between these first few pages and those that I wrote later. 
To the novel, Zola added an appendix of four short-stories, Esquisses parisiennes (Parisian sketches). The amusing "Les Repoussoirs" recounts the adventures of Durandeau a owner-manager whose business is to trade ugliness. Thus, he provides, for a walk, services of foils whom, by contrast, enhances the client's physical (full text, in french, here).

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Le Vœu d’une morte. Paris, Achille Faure, 1866, in-12, binding by Champs. First edition, no deluxe paper [Carteret, II, 490].
  •  Le Vœu d’une morte. Paris, Charpentier, 1889, in-12, vellum binding from that time. Second edition. One of the 100 copies on Holland paper, only deluxe paper. Ex-libris : Alidor Delzant, executor of  the Goncourt brothers.