LE PAYS, René, Sieur du Plessis-Villeneuve. ~ Amitiez, amours et amourettes... ‘Grenoble, & se vend a Paris’: Charles de Sercy, 1664.
12mo (143 × 72 mm.), pp. [xl], 468, . Additional engraved title with scribing putti by N. Auroux, woodcut ornaments throughout. Engraved title just trimmed at outer margin and slightly cockled, title and first leaf of text with early inscriptions rather heavily cancelled in ink at an early date, leaving minor inkstains to opposing leaves (slightly affecting engraved title), upper margin of the ‘Epistre’ cut away, presumably removing another inscription, upper forecorner of pp. 175-6 torn away, touching pagination, generally clean and crisp. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt panelled spine with 5 raised bands, red morocco label, red edges, silk marker. Rubbed with minor chips to head of spine, wants binder’s blanks at both front and rear. Despite the noted faults, a good copy.
A rare and celebrated courtly collection of amatory letters and verses. Le Pays’ post as a government official at Grenoble apparently left him ample leisure for literary composition, and this, his best-known work was much admired by the duchesse de Nemours, who became his patron. Le Pays seems to have found special favour among female readers, though the author of many of the letters here portrays himself rather as a high-class sex tourist --a curious letter from London extols the splendour of English women’s breasts and their visibility.
It was reprinted numerous times (several editions appeared in the same year). The first edition (also 1664) bears a Grenoble imprint, Gay denotes ours, with the Paris Sercy imprint, the second. Despite the number of early editions, legitimate or pirated, printed in the same year all appear rare outside France. Gay I, 99.