L'An deux mille quatre cent quarante. Rêve s'il en fut jamais
[ Mercier, Louis-Sebastien ].

A Londres: 1775. Early edition of this influential utopian novel, noteworthy for being set in the future. "L'an deux mille quatre cent quarante was first published in 1771. It was swiftly banned in France and was put on the Inquisition's list of forbidden books in 1773, b Light dampstain in margin of half-title, a little light foxing. A very good copy. Gershon Legman's copy, with his signature and the date 1984 in ink on the front free endpaper. Later mottled sheep. Gilt, flat spine, edges stained red. Small octavo [viii], 472, [4] pp. (Item ID: 14501)


Mercier (1740-1814) was a prolific writer of plays, novels, and pamphlets. Firmly in the tradition of the Enlightenment, he was influenced by Rousseau, Diderot, Holbach, Mably, and others. Robert Darnton writes: "There is no better writer to consult," Robert Darnton writes, "if one wants to get some idea of how Paris looked, sounded, smelled, and felt on the eve of the Revolution" (The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, p. 118). despite its self-proclaimed character of fantasy...L'An 2440 demanded to be read as a serious guidebook to the future. It offered an astonishing new perspective: the future as a fait accompli and the present as a distant past. Who could resist the temptation to participate in such a thought experiment? And once engaged in it, who could fail to see that it exposed the rottenness of the society before his eyes, the Paris of the eighteenth century?" (ibid, p. 120). Gershon Legman (1917-1999) pioneered the serious academic study of erotic and taboo materials in folklore. He is particularly known for his work, Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor (1968) and for his several books on limericks.

Cioranescu 44468, listing the first edition. Darnton, The Corpus of Clandestine Literature in France 1769-1789, p. 17, no. 30.

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