[CAVENDISH, Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire]. ~ Le Sylphe, traduit de l’anglois. ‘Genève; et se trouve à Paris’: Mérigot, 1784.
12mo (164 × 80 mm), pp. , 246; , 236,  (blank), without final blank in vol. 1, but otherwise complete, with both half-titles present, engraved portrait frontispiece (as called for), woodcut ornaments. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt panelled spine, red morocco label, red edges. An excellent copy.
First edition in French of The Sylph: ‘a roman-à-clef about high society. The Sylph scandalized critics because it portrayed the aristocracy as, inter alia, drunks, blackmailers, wife beaters, and adulterers. Although it was an open secret that Georgiana was the author, she was never publicly exposed. Indeed the press bent over backwards to print glowing stories about her. Such was her popularity with the nation that the mere association of her name with a performer, a play, a book, or piece of china could ensure success. Georgiana was also highly acclaimed in Paris and counted Queen Marie-Antoinette and the duchesse de Polignac among her intimate friends’ (Oxford DNB). The English edition appeared in 1778, this was an epistolary novel, partly autobiographical, in which the eponymous sylph acts as confidante and adviser to Julia Grenville, a virtuous young lady from the country who is beguiled into marriage with the dissipated Sir William Stanley.
The translation is by Pierre le Tourneur, responsible for introducing enthusiastic French audiences to a wide variety of British literature, notably Shakespeare (with his monumental French edition of 1776-1782), Richardson and Ossian. The engraved frontispiece here is a charming depiction of the heroine and her sylph, by Pierre Nicolas Ransonette, engraver to ‘Monsieur’ (the King’s brother’). The English editions are not illustrated.
Rochedieu, p. 50. Outside continental Europe OCLC lists copies at Bodley, Yale and Rice only. COPAC adds Leeds.