Paris: Chez Cuchet, 1784. Two volumes. xxiv,[iv],422,; ,iv,400,pp. Half title in second volume. Bound in matching contemporary mottled calf, spines richly gilt. Boards and outer joints with instances of moderate wear. Occasional minor foxing, light dampstaining in upper corner of final 60 pages of second volume. A very good set. Item #WRCAM37982
The first French edition, first issue, following the first London printing of 1782. This first issue contains errata leaves not found in the second issue, and is printed on different paper and contains different ornaments on the titlepage and chapter heads. The pagination of the second volume also differs from that of the second issue. When creating this French edition, Crèvecoeur did not merely translate the London edition; he substantially rewrote it, adding a second volume, and changing the identity of the narrator from the farmer, "James," to a person more readily identifiable as Crèvecoeur himself. It is also more pro-American and anti-British in tone than is the London printing. Crèvecoeur came to America during the French and Indian War and served with the French forces. Afterwards he settled in the British colonies, becoming a farmer. This work, which describes his experiences in America, is justly famous for its vivid picture of a colonial world slipping into the chaos of war, revolution, and nationhood. Two of the essays, "What is an American?" and "Distresses of a Frontier Man," particularly address the confusion of the times. Crèvecoeur gives a negative assessment of slavery in his section on South Carolina, and one of the "letters" is written from Culpeper County, Virginia. There is also much on the natural history of British North America, and ethnographic information on American Indians. "As literature unexcelled by any American work of the eighteenth century" - Howes. Certainly one of the chief works of literature, in an edition quite different than its London predecessor, and one of the most important observations on America during the era of the Revolution. HOWES C883. CLARK I:218. MONAGHAN 502. DAB IV, pp.542-44. SABIN 17496. MEISEL III, p.352.