Paris, A. Lotrian c. 1530.
4to. [i], p. Gothic type, double-column, THIRTEEN WOODCUTS.
Late 19th-century Jansenist blue morocco (Capé, rubbed), gilt-lettered title and turn-ins, all edges gilt, silk marker.
In this illustrated chapbook romance of chivalry “the heroine escapes the destiny imposed by tradition and authority” (Crécy & Brown-Grant, tr.). Characterization, not the marvelous, drives the narrative, which was an immediate success, particularly among women. This is THE ONLY COPY KNOWN OF THIS PRINTING.
Set in southeastern France and the Middle East in 1271, this tells of the knight Paris and the princess Vienne, whose attempt to marry across different social ranks forces her into prison and him into exile. In lieu of romances’ customary magical devices, the protagonists’ cunning and trickery shapes the tale. “One of the most natural and charming of the pre-Renaissance heroines” (Bennett), Vienne dodges suitors through dissimulation. Paris travels in disguise to Alexandria, Babylon, Jerusalem, the Sultan’s court and the land of Prester John.
As in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a friar helps the lovers overcome paternal intransigence, though our pair ends happily married, not lamented.
It proved popular in English from Caxton on. Seventeen 15th-century editions in English, French, Catalan, Low German, Dutch and Italian survive (in eighteen complete examples; Harvard, the Morgan and Library of Congress in the U.S.). Numbers are comparable for the 16th-century. “No romance of chivalry can boast of such support from the art of printing” (Kaltenbacher, tr.). From the libraries of Firmin-Didot (Catalogue (1881) 418), Fairfax Murray (Catalogue 431) and Brunschwig (Bibliothèque (1955) 517). Pierre de la Cépède is often given authorship. In good condition, two lower margins uncut.
¶Brunet IV: 372; Bechtel, Catalogue des gothiques français P-27; Kaltenbacher, Der altfranzösische Roman Paris Et Vienne 22,7 & 42-53; Cépède, Paris et Vienne edd. Crécy & Brown-Grant 10-80; Bennett, “Introduction (to Paris and Vienne)” in The Thought and Culture of the English Renaissance ed. Nugent 563-70.