HAMILTON, Anthony, Count. ~ Histoire de Fleur d’Epine, conte… Paris: Jean Fr[ançois] Josse, 1730.
12mo (161 × 90 mm.), pp. [iv], 275, . Woodcut ornaments. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt panelled spine, red edges. Later ownership inscription. A very good copy.
First edition of the best of Irish emigré Hamilton’s marvellous parodies of exotic fantasies and fairy-tales. Histoire de Fleur d’Epine (’the story of Mayblossom’) purports to be the tale of the 1001st night, told by Dinarzade ‘because she cannot bear to hear another of her sister Scheherazade’s interminable tedious yarns’ (Warner). The tale draws playfully on the motifs of fairy-tales and is full of all the bizarre transformations and magical occurrences that readers of the contes de fées of Perrault and Madame d’Aulnoy might expect. All is delivered in a charming if almost entirely nonsensical narrative.
Hamilton was an Irish catholic exile in France, who composed his fantasies for the amusement of his friends at the court of James II in exile. He was a remarkable figure who moved with ease between the anglophone and francophone worlds, composing literature in French in a style few Frenchmen could match.
Cioranescu 33453. The work has been extensively studied by Marina Warner (see Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds, 2004 and lectures).