Rare and beautiful

F. J. E. de R***

Fables en vers

Publication: J. F. Hauer, St. Pétersbourg, 1835.

F. J. E. de R***, Fables en vers

An exceptionnally rare French publication in Russia at the heart of the Golden Age and a few years before Custine’s famous travel, with a long preface expressing the author’s political views. With great provenance and finely bound.

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Our Notes & References

Extremely rare fables printed in St. Petersburg during Pushkin’s heyday – the French ambassador’s copy, beautifully bound: Prosper de Barante (1782-1866) was a prominent man of letters and historian, as well as a diplomat who became ambassador to St Petersburg in 1835, the exact year of publication of these fables.

We could not find any other copy.

Most probably living in Russia under the relatively rigid reign of Nicholas I, the anonymous but apparently aristocratic author takes the opportunity of his fables to express political views in line with both the French and the Russian governments of the time: “Je veux qu’on sache que, très peu partisan des nouvelles doctrines, c. à d. de celles qui datent du dix-huitième siècle, en ce qu’elles s’appuient sur l’incrédulité et sur le dégoutant libéralisme, j’honore de coeur la religion, j’admets fermement ce qu’elle enseigne, et je la regarde comme seule base solide et inébranlable de toute espèce d’édifice social. L’obéissance aux puissances de la terre, qui est indispensable pour la tranquillité et le bonheur des peuples…” (preface, pp. xviii-xix). Responding to the overthrow of Charles X in 1830 and the frequent revolts in France, the author mourns the lack of obedience and derides “le bourgeois de Paris avec son uniforme de garde-national” (preface, p. xx).

This expression of conservative, religious views fits well with the cathedral binding, based on traditional Christian architecture, the block showing gothic fenestration and the spine tooled with quatrefoils. The fine and rich binding is anonymous, possibly Russian but probably French.


Bibliotheque de M de Barante (shelf labels to upper and lower pastedowns) – one of the largest private collections in France, built up during more than three centuries by successive generations of the Brugieres family, located at the Château de Barante in France.


Not in Cat. Russica.

Item number



Physical Description

Octavo (21.5 x 14.4 cm). XXII incl. half title and title, 230 pp. and [5] ll. t.o.c and errata.


Full contemporary green morocco ‘à la cathédrale’, central block in blind to covers within gilt frames with corner fleurons, gilt rollwork to turn-ins, green endpapers, all edges gilt, yellow and red silk bookmark.


Binding a bit rubbed or scratched, spine lightly discoloured; some foxing throughout, pp. 223-230 (ie. quire 15) in duplicate; an attractive example.

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