London: Euphorion Books, 1950. Single volume, measuring 8.5 x 5.25 inches: , 172. Original brick cloth, spine lettered in gilt, pictorial endpapers, original unclipped pictorial dust jacket designed by Philippe Jullian. Six full-page portraits throughout text. Lightest edgewear and toning to jacket, with partial split to front flap fold; edges spotted; offsetting to endpapers.
Privately printed first edition of English novelist Nancy Mitford’s translation of Madame de Lafayette’s seventeenth-century novel, a high spot of French literature, illustrated with portraits of the court of Henri II. The Princesse de Clèves, the tale of a faithful wife tempted by the fascinating Duc de Nemours, introduces a modern psychological realism into the highly stylized conventions of French court romance: “She could not suppress an uneasy happiness at the sight of him, but when he was not there the thought that her love had its origins in his physical presence filled her with anguish so that she almost hated him.” This scarce edition was published by Euphorion Books, the private press of Nancy Mitford’s sister Diana Mosley, and contains Mitford’s acid preface, which was watered down considerably when the translation was reprinted by Penguin in 1962. A near-fine copy of a fragile book, scarce in jacket.