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Mme de Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne'. Identifying the First Edition Jo-Ann McEachern and David Smith It is no easy task to identify the first edition of Mme de Graffigny's only novel. No manuscript is extant, and no presentation copies have come to light, which might bear indications in the author's handwriting. The novel was published during the visit of her lifelong friend from her native Lorraine, François Antoine Devaux, who stayed in Paris from 11 October 1747 to 11 March 1748. Their correspondence, normally a valuable source of information, was thus suspended during this crucial period. The information their letters provide before and after these dates is very sparse, but some of it is critical for our purposes. The manuscript ofZilia, as the novel was first called, was completed on 9 June 1747, when she tells Devaux: "Je l'envoie demain au marché."1 The negotiations with publishers were handled by the comte de Caylus and the abbé Pérau: "Nicole [Mlle Quinault] venait pour me dire qu'Antoine [Caylus] vendra mal ma Zilia et prendre des arrangements 1 Yale University, Graffigny Papers, vol. 44, p. 131. References in the text are to these papers. AU quotations save the one in note 1 1 have been modernized. Our account of the publication of the novel will be brief, since it goes over ground already covered by English Showalter, "Les Lettres d'une Péruvienne: Composition, Publication, Suites," Archives et bibliothèques de BelgiquelArchief- en Bibliotheekwezen in BeIgM 54 (1983), 14-28; and by Vera Grayson, "The Genesis and Reception of Mme de Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne and Cinie" Studies on Voltaire, 336 (1996), chap. 2. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Volume 9, Number 1, October 1996 22 EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION pour la vendre mieux" (11 June 1747; GP, 44:135). Caylus dealt first with Mme Oudot, who had published previous works of the Société du Bout-du-Banc,2 the literary group which gravitated around him and Mile Quinault: J'eus la visite d'Antoine, chose rare. Il venait me dire mille biens de Zilla et que Mde Oudot en est folle, qu'elle veut l'avoir et qu'il lui avait dit qu'elle ne l'aurait qu'avec bien de l'argent. Et malgré cela je ne crois pas en avoir beaucoup. C'est l'Abbé [Pérau] qui est le courtier de cette affaire. Elle va ce matin lui parler. Nous saurons tantôt ses offres. (17 June 1747; GP, 44:147) A week later, Mme Oudot had offered three hundred francs, but Caylus was trying to get more by involving another publisher who is identified only as male: T'ai-je dit que Mde Oudot traitait mal cette Zilial Mais Antoine en use comme un ange: loin de céder à cette femme qu'il aime beaucoup, il l'a donné à un homme qui doit aller trouver l'Abbé dimanche. Nous verrons si à l'émulation l'un de l'autre ils font mieux. Cette Oudot n'en a offert que 300 livres. Ce ne serait guère la peine de se casser la tête. Je crois cependant que cela n'ira guère plus haut. (23 June 1747; GP, 44:156) As Graffigny predicted, the tactic adopted by Caylus to increase her remuneration proved ineffective: Antoine est venu me parler de Zilla qui va mal. L'autre imprimeur qui devait aller chez l'Abbé n'y a point été. Il le trouve charmant, mais par une indiscrétion de l'Abbé [...], cet imprimeur sait que la Pissot [sic] l'a vu. Ils se font des compliments et ces compliments iront à n'en rien avoir. (2 July 1747; GP, 44:174) It will be noted that, without warning, Mme Oudot has suddenly become Mme Pissot who, as we shall see, was the eventual publisher. It seems unlikely that the previous occurrences of "Oudot" were slips ofthe pen, since Graffigny knew both publishers and uses Oudot's name three times in two letters written a week apart, or that "Oudot" was merely a code-name for "Pissot", since both names are used quite freely elsewhere in her letters. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 21-35
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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