Zayde. A Spanish History, or, Romance· Originally Written in French. By Monsieur Segray. Done into English by P. Porter, Esq;. The First Part. [- The Second Part.]

LA FAYETTE Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, Madame de (1690)


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"Second Edition Corrected". 8vo. [8], 136, 129-271, [1 (advertisement)] pp. Text lightly browned. Contemporary red morocco by "Queens' Binder A" (probably William Nott), the covers elaborately tooled in gilt with a design of four irregular compartments of open strapwork emanating from a central quadrilobe, formed by two-line gouges, the compartments filled with massed gilt volutes, scrolls, small flower-heads, dots and sequins; spine with six panels, the second and fifth panels with a central strapwork knot and small scroll tools in the corners, the others with strapwork 'V' with small tools in the spaces; comb-marbled endleaves; gilt edges (neat reapir to the head and tail of the spine, joints slightly rubbed at the spine-bands, corners a little bumped and slightly worn). 


London: for Francis Saunders,

Wing L173 (British Library; UC-Clark Library, Harvard, Huntington, Newberry, Illinois, Minnesota, Yale). The final leaf of advertisements includes "Shakespears Works" - Saunders specialised in publishing plays and was one of the joint publishers of the Fourth Folio (1685).


The Oxford Companion to French Literature describes Zayde, histoire Espagnole, first published at Paris in 1670-71 and originally, as in the present translation, attributed to Jean-Regnaud de Segrais (1624-1701), as "a collection of loosely connected tales on the model of the Grand Cyrus but in a Spanish setting, it is in the main a study of love in its less happy aspects, for instance in the ruin of the happiness of Ximinès and Bélisaire by his morbid incurable jealousy of her former lover, now dead." More detailed plot-summaries are widely available on the internet. While the extent of Segrais' collaboration with Madame de La Fayette (1634-93) is uncertain Zayde has now long been credited to her as the principal, if not sole, author.


This second edition of P. Porter's (his christian name is unknown) translation reprints the dedication of the first edition (1678) to the then-fifteen-year-old Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Grafton (1663-90), the 2nd of 3 illegitimate sons of Charles II and Barbara (Villiers) Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine and suo jure Duchess of Cleveland. This is followed by a new address, "The Bookseller to the Ladies" by Francis Saunders: "Ladies, The Character the Right Honourable the Lady Anne Baynton was pleased to give of this Romance, induced m to reprint, not questioning in the least, but what had received her Ladiships Approbation, would be acceptable to all that had not read it. And as I shall own my self always obliged to all that buy it; so, I hope, you will have reason to acknowledge some Obligation to her Ladiship for this this Publication".


Lady Anne Baynton (1668-1703) was the the younger of the two daughters of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. In 1685 she married Henry Baynton (1664-91), the 15th and last direct male Baynton owner of Bromham, Wiltshire. She was the poet Robert Gould's "Adorissa". She married, 2ndly, the Hon. Francis Greville and was mother of Fulke, 6th Baron Greville of Beauchamp.


Another translation of Zayde, by Samuel Croxall the younger ensured its popularity in English well into the 18th Century when it was included in his Select Collection of Novels (6 vols., London, 1722 & 1729 and Dublin 1769-72). Croxall's translation was also included in A Collection of Novels, selected and revised by Mrs. Griffith (3 vols., London, 1777). 


For a hundred years, at least, the reputation of Zayde amongst English readers held high:


"Plutarch assures us, that one of the greatest charms of mans soul is the tissue of a Fable well invented and well related; what success then may not you presume upon from Zayde, where the Adventures are so new and touching, and the Narration so juste and so polite." - Pierre-Daniel Huet, The History of Romances (1715), p. 111.


"I will not, indeed, presume to say with Voltaire, that among the greatest admirers of antiquity, there is scarce one to be found, who could ever read the Iliad with that eagerness and rapture, which a woman feels when she peruses the novel of Zayde." - John Hawkesworth, The Adventurer, No. 80 (11 August 1753).


"Madame de la Fayette led the way to novels in the present mode. She was the first who introduced sentiments instead of wonderful adventures, and amiable men instead of bloody heroes. In substituting distresses for prodigies, she made a discovery that persons of taste and feeling are more attached by compassion than wonder." - Henry Home Kames, Sketches of the History of Man (3 vols., Edinburgh, 1774), I, p. 107.


However, after 1780, its English readership moved on to the Gothic and the SENTIMENTAL and the only modern edition is the new translation by Nicholas D. Paige (Chicago, 2006).


Today, however, Zayde is once more firmly in the canon of feminine literature and its significance as a pioneering work within that canon has been widely recognised in recent years, e.g.


"Yet Zayde is not a new old novel. It is rather an extended narrative echo-chamber, a patchwork of devices and plot twists familiar from the fictions of more heroic days. In its very excessiveness, Zayde is intentionally implausible, although not in the manner of a parody. Zayde is an exploration of the future for women's fiction at a time when women had lost, first, their official power, and then their independent domains and all but their most private spaces. In the writings that mark the last stages of Scudéry's career, the collections of conversations published in the 1680s, she explained the redefinition of representation under the absolute monarchy. In Zayde, Lafayette prefigures her demonstration by exploring alternative inscriptions of women's writing. Lafayette's homage to her precursors is an extended meditation on the interpretation of women's plots and the value of women's stories. In Zayde, Lafayette transforms the standard devices of précieuse fiction - the conversation, the recital of a life story, the portrait - when she takes them out of the feminocentric setting in which Scudéry showcases them in Clélie and illustrates their translation into an androcentric literary universe more closely related to the political context taking shape in Lafayette's day.


"The lesson of Zayde, the crucial shift of focus, reveals Lafayette as the first woman writer able to take the woman's novel as a given, an already constituted literary entity." - Joan DeJean, Tender Geographies: Women and the Origins of the Novel in France (New York, 1991), pp. 65-6.


Binding: "The Queens' Binder" is a pseudonym invented by G.D. Hobson for a workshop that produced bindings for both Catherine of Braganza and for Mary of Modena. Howard Nixon's research demonstrated that the Queens' Binder was in fact four separate shops, and that the largest, designated "A" by Nixon, would seem from an entry in Pepys's diary linked through a binding in the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, to be the bindery operated by William Nott.


Nott was, like the royal binder Samuel Mearne, an important figure in the book trade, trading as bookseller, stationer, and publisher, as well as owning a bindery. The quality of the finishing of the bindings by the Queens' Binder A varies considerably, suggesting a large shop employing several finishers. This shop was also by far the most prolific of the Restoration binders. Prior to the Fire of London Nott's shop was in Ivy Lane, at the sign of the White Horse, by St. Paul's Churchyard. The shop would have been destroyed in the Fire of 1665 and the original tools may have been lost. Within a few months the business had reopened in Pall Mall, Westminster. What has not apparently been noted was that from 1666 to 1693 his shop in Pall Mall was at the "sign of the Queens Arms" (except for one imprint of 1688 which gives it "at the King and Queens-Arms"). This might further suggest that his identification as "Queens' Binder A" is correct. One imprint of 1666 further described his location as "in the middle of the Old Pell-Mell near St. James's" and the 1688 imprint mentioned above specified it was at "the turning into St. James's-Square". 


Many examples of bindings by the Queens' Binder A have been published, but see particularly H. M. Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, nos. 40 & 44; Nixon, English Restoration Bookbindings, nos.56-64; and Nixon, Catalogue of the Pepys Library, plates 40-44. The present binding dates from the last few years of his career. The distinctive design of four irregular compartments of open strapwork emanating from a central quadrilobe is closest to that found (on a larger scale) in the central panels of a two folio volumes of Ralph Cudworth's works (The True Intellectual System, 1678 & A Discourse concerning the True Notion of the Lord's Supper, 1676) in the Henry Davis Gift in the British Library (Mirjam M. Foot, Henry Davis Gift, II, no. 119).


Provenance: It is exceptional to find a work of fiction from the 17th Century in such an elaborate binding. It must have been bound (presumably as a present) for someone of significance. An old inscription has been heavily (and with some damage) erased from the front flyleaf (which has been pasted to the verso of the marbled free-endleaf); a second front flyleaf has been removed leaving the remains of a stub;  otherwise there are only a few pencil booksellers' notes.


Stock Code: 225779

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