[DENON, Dominique Vivant]. ~ Point de lendemain, conte. Paris: P. Didot, l’aïné, 1812.
24mo (130 × 70 mm), pp. , 52. Engraved portrait frontispiece and one plate by Normand after Lafitte. Pale foxing to frontis and title, otherwise crisp and fresh. Contemporary blue straight grain morocco, gilt panelled spine, lettered direct, panelled sides, yellow silk endpapers and ribbon, gilt edges by Lefèbvre. Very light rubbing to extremities, but a delightful copy.
First edition in book form, printed for private circulation and exceptionally rare. This copy bound in contemporary blue morocco with a rare additional engraved autoportrait by the author (a plate known in a handful of copies and in no other copy of Point de Lendemain).
Point de Lendemain is one of the great erotic classics of French literature. One summer night, a married woman initiates an encounter with a young ingénu ― and so begins a sophisticated and nuanced story of mutual seduction. ‘In merely thirty or so pages, the erotic conte [tale] Point de lendemain … captures the libertine essence of the French eighteenth century. It is often read, with a fondness not far from nostalgia, as a vignette for a certain idea of libertinage. With Point de lendemain, Denon celebrates the subtle seductions and the intense voluptés of vicomtes and marquises, set in rococo landscapes à la Watteau or in lavish interiors worthy of Du Barry. Point de lendemain is as graceful as a painting by Fragonard …’ (Marine Ganofsky).
This 1812 text has been reprinted many times, usually with plates making explicit what is so subtly left implicit in the original. In its first incarnation the tale appeared in an issue of the Mélanges littéraires ou Journal des dames in 1777 — its authorship concealed under the initials ‘M.D.G.O.D.R.’ — but Denon later revised and republished anonymously in this definitive edition of 1812, the version in which it is known today. It was printed in very small numbers (perhaps just 25 copies) and privately distributed. Copies are highly prized, both in private and public collections and we find just 4 copies in public collections worldwide: the Bibliothèque nationale copy only is listed in the Catalogue collectif de France, while OCLC/Worldcat lists American copies at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley only. There is also a copy in the Bodleian Library. L’Enfer de la Bibliotheque 57; Brunet II, 599; Diesbach-Soultrait 40; Monglond IX, 1167 (the two copies listed, including that of the Reserve, do not contain a plate). Marine Ganofsky, Point de Lendemain (Literary Encyclopedia, University of Saint Andrews, online).