[Silves de la Selva – Gohory, Jacques].

[Silves de la Selva - Gohory, Jacques] Le treziesme livre d\\\\\\\'Amadis de Gaule

Montluel, Barthélemy Prost, 1576.


16mo. pp. 507 [xxi]. a-z8, A-K8, (without K6-8 blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut ornament on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, eighteenth century engraved armorial bookplate on pastedown (‘Le Camus’ according to pencil note on fly). Light age yellowing, first few leaves strengthened on verso at blank outer margin, small stain in lower margin of quire b, outer margins of last few leaves a little chipped. A very good copy in early calf, covers bordered with a double gilt rule, arms of Charles Le Bascle, Marquis d’Argenteuil gilt stamped on covers, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments with crowned  ‘Dauphin’ gilt at centres, all edges marbled, joints and headband neatly restored. 

Rare provincial edition of this romance of chivalry, charmingly bound with the royal emblem of the crowned ‘Dauphin’ on the spine and the arms of Charles Le Bascle, Marquis d’Argenteuil on the covers. Although the dolphin gilt stamp does not itself denote the provenance of the French heir apparent, the crowned dolphin carries a stronger inference of Royal ownership. 

The work is a continuation of the original Amadis story; Jacques Gohorry made this translation and adaption from the 12th book of Amadis written by Silves de la Selva first published in Spanish at Seville in 1549. The stories of Amadis were immensely popular in C16th France; Pettegree records seven editions for the year 1576 alone of the various books of Amadis. “Amadís of Gaul, is a prose romance of chivalry, possibly Portuguese in origin. The first known version of this work, dating from 1508, was written in Spanish by Garci Ordóñez de Montalvo, who claimed to have “corrected and emended” corrupt originals. Internal evidence suggests that the Amadís had been in circulation since the early 14th century or even the late 13th. In Montalvo’s version, Amadís was the most handsome, upright, and valiant of knights. The story of his incredible feats of arms, in which he is never defeated, was interwoven with that of his love for Oriana, daughter of Lisuarte, king of England; she was his constant inspiration, and eventually he won her in marriage. Many characters in the Amadís were based on figures from Celtic romance, and the work was, indeed, Arthurian in spirit. It differed, however, from the Arthurian cycle in numerous important respects. There was no particular sense of place or time, only a vague unspecified field for the interplay of idealized human relationships. Whereas earlier romance had reflected a feudal society, the Amadís invested the monarchy with an authority that heralds the advent of absolutism. Amadís himself was more idealized and therefore less human than such earlier heroes as Lancelot and Tristan. He was also far more chaste: French romance had already put a courtly veneer over the disruptive eroticism of the Celtic tales, but, with the Amadís, medieval chivalry achieved complete respectability. The work and its exaltation of new standards of knightly conduct caught the imagination of polite society all over Europe. In France, especially, it became the textbook of chivalresque deportment and epistolary style. Throughout the 16th century, numerous sequels and feeble imitations appeared, the fashion being given its deathblow by parody early in the 17th century in Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote (though Cervantes held the original in high esteem).” Enc. Brit.

A charming copy with excellent provenance. 

USTC 23437. Pettegree, ‘French Vernacular Books’ 1001. Baudrier. I pp. 362-363. Index Aureliensis 104426.