Franc. Josephi Desbillons Soc. Jesu Fabulae Aesopiae, curis posterioribus, omnes fere, emendatae: accesserunt plus quam CLXX Novae, Vol. I

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Desbillons, François-Joseph Terrasse
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Bodemann #152.1. Here is a terrific find! I had known and found copies of Desbillons' work, but here is a major two-volume edition, and it was sitting for $75 at Bryn Mawr's Lantern bookshop in Georgetown. Bodemann says that this is the first full edition; Books 1-10 had already appeared in 1754 and 1759. The first volume here contains the first nine books (of fifteen). Desbillons makes clear that, where there is no attribution in his first note on the fable, he believes that he has invented the fable; he admits that he may have forgotten his source for fables that turn out to be built from something he has read. Desbillons offers other notes, too, under the text. They include comments on vocabulary, animal life, and especially literary parallels. Verhelst has one full-page engraving per book. The Temple of Apollo precedes Book One; thereafter each engraving presents a particular fable within the book and is found with that fable. As Bodemann points out, there are copious decorations, initials, and vignettes, some with animal motifs. People are right: Desbillons' Phaedrus-like fables are remarkable for their clarity. Seldom have I encountered Latin so intelligible on the first reading. Try II 15 (misprinted as II 5) as an example. It does GGE well in five lines. My impression of Desbillons' own contributions, like I 7, Pueruli Fratres, is that they are good but not overpowering. This fable has a boy weeping over his sick brother one day but refusing him a share of his cookies the next day. Upbraided, he answers that nature gives tears, not cookies. Several of them seem to have a sad tone. Thus II 29 has a sick man's wife call on death, seeming to offer herself as his victim if necessary. When death appears, she gives up her husband immediately. This fable is well illustrated (53). VI 6 (162) gives another good example of a Desbillons fable and a good Verhelst engraving. The engravings seem to be of Desbillons' originals rather than of the derived fables. Collection X, #F-0088 I-II, which comments that this edition is particularly sought after because of Verhelst's fine engravings. The spine is deteriorating. For me, this is certainly one of the treasures of this collection!
Mannhemii Typis Academicis
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