À Mystificatapolis [i.e., Berlin]: Chez Momus, à la Marotte, 5784 [i.e., 1784]. First edition. Contemporary sprinkled half calf, sprinkled boards, yellow morocco label, gilt lettering, 6.75 x 4.38 inches, xvi, 286 pages. Engraved frontispiece. A trifle rubbed and bumped; short crack near the head of the front joint; a very good copy. Item #19980
“Faites un Livre, ou nous vous casserons la tête”—write a book, or we will break your head, thus the first sentence of an entertaining digressive satirical novel that demonstrates a certain Tristram Shandy self-awareness for the process of novel writing itself, with false starts, allusions to Liebnitz and Pascal, the explanation of a mysterious secret society (complete with its by-laws), debates in the text between authors, etc. The attribution to the French-born actor, editor (and Mason) Le Bauld de Nans (1735-1792) comes from scholar François Labbé, who published a critical edition of the novel in 2008. La Bauld was resident in Berlin from 1775 until his death, editing the Gazette literaire francaise; previously he had been a member of various court theatre troupes performing French comedies in Mannheim and Regensburg. Not found in Brunet, Graesse, or Cohen-De Ricci. Graesse-Weller II, 224. With the early Swedish Skottorps Castle bookplate on the front pastedown.