[LAFAYETTE, Marie-Madeleine de]. ~ Zayde Histoire espagnole, par Monsieur de Segrais; avec un Traité de l’origine des romans, par Monsieur Huet. Paris: Claude Barbin, 1670-1 [Approbation dated 1669].
2 vols, 8vo (150 × 90 mm), pp. 441, ; , 536. Titles with woodcut devices. Later maroon crushed morocco, gilt, gilt edges, by Masson-De Bonnelle. Bookplates (Grandsire). An excellent copy.
First edition, rare. A Hispano-Moorish romance, which unfolds during the long medieval struggle between Christians and Muslims for control of the Iberian Peninsula, Zayde often considered the last great French romance before the emergence of the modern novel (a development also attributed to Madame de Lafayette, with her La Princesse de Clèves). The first volume contains the first appearance of Daniel Huet’s treatise on the origin of novels.
Like the better-known La Princess de Clèves, the novel was issued carrying the name of Madame Lafayette’s friend and confidant Jean Regbault de Segrais, secretary the duchesse de Montpensier. It is also likely that de la Rochefoucauld had hand in the novel’s composition. Lafayette was the only woman author of Ancien regime France who had a work accepted into the canon of world literature—The Princess of Clèves, variously referred to, depending on context, as the first psychological novel, the first historical novel, even the first realist novel.
Tchemerzine, III, 834-835 - Brunet, III, 743.