Paris en 1840, Reveries philosophiques. M. DESFONTAINES.
Paris en 1840, Reveries philosophiques.

Paris en 1840, Reveries philosophiques.

Paris: Chez les Marchands de nouveautés, 1841.

Octavo, some light foxing, library stamp on title; a good copy in simple black quarter morocco, gilt banding and title to spine.

Utopian dreams from mid-century France

Very rare: a series of philosophical "reveries" published in France in the 1840s, reflecting on the utopian tradition.

Very rare: a series of philosophical "reveries" published in France in the 1840s, reflecting on the utopian tradition.

In large parts quite bizarre, the work has a highly unusual genesis, being largely inspired by the more religious aspects of the utopian tradition, not least St. Augustine's City of God and the writings of Chateaubriand, but with much borrowed from Fenelon's voyage of Telemachus (1699), as well as works ranging from the Koran to the letters of Abelard and Heloise. The discussion ranges all over the world from Europe to Calcutta to Egypt, even including, in the fifteenth 'dream,' a discussion of voyagers from Palinurus (the drowned steerman of the Aeneid) to Cook and La Pérouse.

Copies do seem very uncommon indeed, and the work is so little-known and little-recorded that the actual identity of the author Desfontaines remains unknown. The publisher, clearly something of a collective issuing the latest works, is known to have put their name to many not unrelated works in this era, ranging from a Défense of the writings of the socialist Fourier (1841) to a strange Physiologie of the Parisian theatres by Freycinet's old friend, the voyage artist Jacques Arago (1841).


In the form of a series of epistles addressed to the ingenue 'modeste Eugénie', Desfontaines takes it upon himself to present a synthesis of world history, in the process helping her journey into the immense world where spirit flies free on the wings of imagination: 'dans ces immenses régions où l'esprit libre d'entraves aime a s'égarer sur les ailes de l'imagination'. In the process, he discusses topics as diverse as Mesmer, the Dalai-Lama, and the voyages of Cook and La Pérouse, all of which are sublimated to his belief in the world as symbiotic whole. Desfontaines himself claims to be doing nothing more than rehearsing the general parameters of more famous examples of the ideal society such as Augustine's City of God.

Not in NUC.

Price (AUD): $1,400.00

US$988.50   Other currencies

Ref: #5000474