Victor Hugo's Gothic Masterpiece
Notre-Dame de Paris.
Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1831.
Quatrième édition. Paris: Charles Gosselin, Libraire, 1831.
First edition, first printing, fourth issue ("Quatrieme édition"), of Hugo's gothic masterpiece. It is generally accepted that the publisher indiscriminately printed different editions on the title-page of all copies to make the book seem as if it was now in four editions, however the text is all identical. Two octavo volumes (8 1/2 x 5 3/8 inches; 214 x 135 mm.). , 404; , 536 pp. With half-titles in both volumes. Wood-engraved title vignettes after Tony Johannot.
Contemporary quarter marbled sheep over marbled paper boards. Spines with three black morocco spine labels. Labels stamped and lettered in gilt. All edges uncut. Corners a bit bumped. Back board of volume II with minor abrasions. Previous owner's old ink signature on top margin of title-page in each volume. Some occasional spotting and thumb-soiling, but generally internally very clean. Overall, an excellent copy.
"This first edition, in fine condition, is the rarest of all the works of Victor Hugo; it has had a resounding impact worldwide, and is one of the most difficult titles of the Romantic period to obtain" (Carteret).
Gosselin brought out the novel on 16 March 1831 in an edition of 1,100 copies, as was his general practice. This first printing was distributed into four separate issues of 275 copies each, the subsequent three issues being designated as "second edition," "third edition," and "fourth edition" respectively on the title-pages.
"Johannot's title-page vignettes for the first edition of Notre-Dame de Paris show Quasimodo in the pillory receiving a drink from Esmeralda (Volume I) and Esmeralda escorted to the gallows (Volume II)" (Ray).
Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 180. Vicaire IV, cols. 256-257.