Fables de La Fontaine: Tome Premier. Avec les figures d'Oudry dans l'édition Desaint et Saillant de 1755
Back in 1988 in Paris I had found the knockoff version of this first volume along the Seine. Now I am delighted to have found the whole set. If there is a drawback to this exquisite set of volumes, it lies in their size: about 5 x 8. The excellent paper frequently displays its watermark of two cannon barrels, cannonballs, and a fleur de lis. The Oudry illustrations are very nicely done. Each fable has its own title-page and at least one illustration, all without printing on the reverse. This edition complements my two other complete Oudry sets, dated 1880? from Tallandier and 1985 from Livre de Poche. Is the pretty gold-embossed red cover really leather? Note that the illustrations are numbered consecutively, not by the twelve book numbers. My favorites on this trip through are BC (XXIV), SS (XXXII), and Le Goutte et l'Araignée (L, 2e Planche). Examples of the majestic composition overwhelming the narrative may lie in XXVII, La Chauve-Souris et les deux Belettes and LVII, Philomèle et Progné. That apparent fault helps the effect in LIX, La Belette entrée dans un Grenier, since just a little head sticks out into a big world that the fat little beastie cannot reenter yet. I would like to see or hear something on the relationship between the two illustrations for LX, Le Chat et un vieux Rat.
Jean de Bonnot