Relation du Monde de Mercure. Le Chevalier de BETHUNE.
Relation du Monde de Mercure.

Relation du Monde de Mercure.

Geneva: Barillot & Fils, 1750.

Two volumes, engraved frontispiece in first volume, printer's device on title pages and manuscript attribution to Béthune; a good copy in contemporary mottled calf, double labels.

Eternal life on the planet Mercury

First edition, uncommon, especially in such good original condition. This is one of only a handful of major works from the eighteenth century to push the imaginary voyage tradition into what is now its natural home, space travel.

First edition, uncommon, especially in such good original condition. This is one of only a handful of major works from the eighteenth century to push the imaginary voyage tradition into what is now its natural home, space travel.

The narrative is set on the planet Mercury amongst a race of tiny winged beings 'ruled by benevolent, almost immaterial beings from the sun' (Gibson). The utopian world that these little creatures inhabit is revealed by a master of the Rosicrucians ('je suis un Rosecroix') who has been given insights into the planets that even the greatest astronomers have missed (or so the preface has it).

The work was printed anonymously in 1750 and, apart from its inclusion in Charles Garnier's Voyages Imaginaires, never reprinted. The shadowy Chevalier de Béthune who is thought to have been the anonymous author remains largely unknown, despite the early work of the bibliographer Barbier and more recent investigations by Ray Howgego. At this stage the most likely contender remains a certain Chevalier de Béthune, member of the Académie des Belles Lettres, who tutored metaphysics to the young Prince Louis Philippe d'Orléans, duc de Chartres: if nothing else, this Chevalier is known to have had a fascination with the mystical and the supernatural.

Barbier, IV, p. 225; Gibson, 'St. Thomas More… with a Bibliography of Utopiana', 626; Negley, 100.

Price (AUD): $8,200.00

US$6,002.40   Other currencies

Ref: #5000469