create pdf catalogue:
Mayer’s massive collection contains the work of over 40 authors and a valuable bibliographical survey of at least 100 others. It includes tales by Madame d’Aulnoy, Pierre-François Godard de Beauchamps, Charles Duclos, Antoine Hamilton, Antoine Galland, Mademoiselle de La Force, Mademoiselle Leprince de Beaumont, Madame Levesque, Mademoiselle Lheritier, Madame de Lintot, Mademoiselle de Lubert, le chevalier de Mailly, Madame de Murat, Charles Perrault and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As Marina Warner has pointed out, within this corpus of tales of magic and enchantment, female authors outnumber male authors two-to-one (From the Beast to the Blonde, 1994).
Mayer established this canon of wonder tales at the very moment when they were most threatened as a literary form. By 1789, the aristocratic salons which had given birth to this genre, were no longer to be taken for granted and tales of this type almost ceased to be published in France. Le cabinet des fées was Mayer’s attempt to preserve for posterity this remarkable corpus of popular literature.
This is also an important illustrated book, with its 120 plates engraved by Pierre-Clément Marillier (1740-1808). These plates are especially interesting for their representation of oriental themes and characters, reflecting the very strong bias within the collection (and within this genre of French literature as a whole) for texts like Galland’s translation of Mille et une nuits set in the Near- and Far East. Marillier’s illustrations certainly reinforce the tendency to depict eastern culture as both alluring but dangerous and, incidentally, furnish the first properly illustrated version of Mille et une nuits (Hensher, ‘Engraving Difference: the representation of the Oriental Other in Marillier’s illustrations to the Mille et une nuits and other contes orientaux in Le Cabinet des fées (1785-89)’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 31, September 2008). see full details...