Lot n° 81
40000 - 50000
FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).
autograph manuscript signed "Gve
Flaubert", Loys XI, drama, 1838; 88 folios (31,5 x 22,5 cm) mounted on tabs in one folio volume, bound in half havana morocco with corners, smooth spine with gilt title, untrimmed (Canape et Corriez).
Unique manuscript of this first theatrical attempt of the young Flaubert.
"This completed drama, this extended and dominated representation of an important moment in history, is the work of a sixteen and a half year old schoolboy", as
Guy Sagnes indicates, who adds that this drama is "unquestionably superior to the historical narratives that Flaubert had composed two years earlier in the manner of Dumas. A serious and prolonged documentation provided the always powerful imagination with a sure material while his passionate intelligence had acquired the sense of history".
Caroline Franklin-Grout, Flaubert's niece and heiress, summarized this drama, of which she possessed the manuscript, in an article of 1906: "It is a painting of the king, his court, his struggle against the Duke of Burgundy, his meeting with St. Francis of Paola and his death at Plessis-les-Tours.
Olivier, Tristan, Commines, Coictier are the main characters; there is a tender scene between the Duke of Burgundy and his daughter Marie, a few moments before he is defeated and killed under the walls of Nancy.
The original edition was published by Conard in 1910. The manuscript remained unknown to the editors of the OEuvres de jeunesse in La Pléiade.
The title page is dated "Février 1838".
The drama is preceded by a preface dated "Samedi soir 3 mars 1838". The manuscript, in cursive handwriting in brown ink on the front and back of leaves numbered by Flaubert ( to 85, with two ff. 66), shows erasures and corrections, as well as a few passages crossed out. The play includes a Prologue (5 scenes), and five acts, the fourth being divided into two tableaux.
Let us quote the text of presentation written by Flaubert at the head of his manuscript: "I have finally finished my 85 pages, and I now feel the need to summarize the impressions which I underwent during these fifteen days of work and childbirth. -I had been deeply in love with the physiognomy of Louis XI, placed like Janus between two halves of history, he reflected its colors and indicated its horizons. A mixture of the tragic and the grotesque, of triviality and height, this face set opposite that of Charles the Bold was tempting, you will admit, for a sixteen-year-old imagination in love with the severe forms of history and drama. [...] As I studied his history, the drama melted naturally into it, the work of the imagination was done in his own, and when I thought I had worked hard enough, that is to say, having read for two months, I set to work. This is the story of my child. - It did not take nine months to germinate and did not follow all the fatal phases from the mole to the embryo.
But I also fear, for this aborted child, that it will not have a life of man and that it will die before long of a fluxion of chest for lack of heat.
Strange thing to write a drama, full of difficulties and obstacles, - a historical drama especially. Tighten a great figure within the limits of 5 acts, you shrink it and you will make people laugh"...
Provenance : Caroline Franklin-Grout-Flaubert (Flaubert's niece) ; Doctor Lucien-Graux (ex-libris ; sale VIII, 11 December 1958, n° 117 bis).
Bibliography : Flaubert, OEuvres de jeunesse, Bibl. de la Pléiade, t. I, notice by Guy Sagnes, p. 1306-1310.
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