GENLIS, [Stéphanie Félicité Brulart, comtesse de]. ~ Les Chevaliers du cygne, ou, la cour de Charlemagne. Conte historique et moral pour servir de suite aux Veillées du château, et dont tous les traits qui peuvent faire allusion à la révolution françoise, sont tirés de l’histoire. Paris: Lemierre and P.F. Fauche in Hambourg, 1795.
8vo (200 × 121 mm), pp. xxiv, 381, ; , 406; , 434, complete with half-titles in vols. 2 & 3 as called for. Preliminaries slightly frayed at inner margins, a few spots and stains, the paper of indifferent quality. Contemporary quarter sheep, plain spines with labels lettered in gilt.
First edition of Genlis’ historical novel, full of overt analogies to the upheavals of the Revolution, written during Genlis’ exile and offered as a sequel to Les Veillées du Château. It appeared in English in a translation by James Beresford as The Knights of the Swan in 1796 (printed for J. Johnson). A measure of its remarkable currency in the literature of the following century is provided by its cameo appearance in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. On an occasion when Prince Andrew visited General Kutuzof, ‘He found him reclining in an armchair, still in the same unbuttoned overcoat. He had in his hand a French book which he closed as Prince Andrew entered, marking the place with a knife. Prince Andrew saw by the cover that it was Les Chevaliers du Cygne by Madame de Genlis’ (X, chapter 16). Cioranescu, 30617; Martin, Mylne & Frautschi, Bibliographie du genre romanesque français, 1751-1800, 95.20.