An Exquisite Copy of the First Edition of Rousseau’s " Confessions"
ROUSSEAU, Jean-Jacques. Confessions. de J.J. Rousseau, suivies des Rêveries du promeneur solitaire. Geneva: N.p. , 1782.
First edition of the first six books of the Confessions and first edition of all of the Reveries of a Solitary Walker. Two works in two octavo volumes ( 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches; 183 x 119 mm). [4], 471, [1, blank]; [4], 279, [1, blank], 300 pp. Woodcut head-pieces. Bound with both half-titles.

Contemporary full marbled calf. Boards single-ruled in blind. Both spines tooled in gilt and with two green morocco spines labels, lettered in gilt. All edges marbled. Marbled endpapers. Some very minor rubbing to edges and spine extremities. With two signatures in volume I very lightly toned, otherwise internally very clean. An exceptionally clean and bright copy in an absolutely exquisite contemporary binding.

These first six books of the Confessions were the first part of the eagerly anticipated work to appear in print; they were rushed to the press as soon as available, though the final six books appeared only in 1789 in a collected edition of Rousseau’s works. Although the identification of the first edition has long been a contended question, Tchémerzine argued that it is "probable" that this edition is "the first separate edition", but R.A. Leigh (following J. Calemard in 1927) has conclusively proven that the present edition is in fact the true first. Formerly, it was generally supposed that the first edition consisted of Volumes 19 and 20 of the posthumous collected works published in Geneva in 1782. However, the work of Leigh and Calemar shows that the edition at hand is the first appearance in print of any part of this work, that this edition was the first on the market, and that it preceded the subscriber’s copies of the Oeuvres posthumes. The latest research is close to that of Dufour, the standard Rousseau bibliographer, who assigns this edition a number prior to that of collected works, but does not take a definite stand on priority. This edition was on sale by the end of April 1782, and was rapidly pirated.

Tchmerzine X, p. 63 (b). Dufour 1.238, nos. 340 and 350. Senelier 1.898. See R.A. Leigh, Unsolved Problems in the Bibliography of J.-J. Rousseau (Cambridge: 1990), pp. 133-140 and figs. 62-64.

HBS # 67913 $7,500