Histoire secrette du Prince Croque’Etron et de la Princesse Foirette. LOVE PARODY —.
Histoire secrette du Prince Croque’Etron et de la Princesse Foirette.
A scatological love novella

Histoire secrette du Prince Croque’Etron et de la Princesse Foirette. “A Gringuenaude [i.e., Paris?]: chez Vincent d’Avalos & Fleurimont Mordant, rue du Gros Visage, a l’Enseigne du Privé Conseil, attenant l’Hôtellerie de la Fleur”, [1701?].

12mo (129 x 76 mm.). viii, 64 pp. Half-title. Expressive woodcut vignette on title (a chamber pot and its contents). Occasional very light spotting, else fine. 19th-century citron morocco, sides gilt panelled, spine gilt lettered longitudinally, turn-ins gilt, gilt edges, pair of vellum flyleaves, by Koehler, with his signature on verso of front free endpaper. 

First Edition of a silly scatological spoof. Farts, excrement, latrines, and their Rabelaisian synonyms provide characters' and place names and an endless supply of windy jokes in this ultimately tragic love tale. The hero Prince Croqu’Etron (Sh*t-eater), son of the sneaky Roi de Vesse (Silent-But-Deadly-Fart), falls in love with the lovely Princess Foirette (Diarrhea), daughter of his father’s enemy the open-hearted Roi Petaut (Loud Fart). Abetted by King Vesse’s minister Constipati, whose secret liaison with one of Foirette’s governesses, Lady Clisterine (Enema) makes him take the Prince’s side, Croqu’Etron persuades his father to replace war with dynastic marriage, a gentler path to territorial aggrandizement. Love vanquishes all, King Petaud gives Prince Croqu’Etron a handsome commode chair, and the Kingdom of Caca finds peace, but the newly married lovers meet their demise at the hands of the evil Prince Gadouard (Manure), who drowns them in vats of perfume, and is punished by the king with the opposite fate, being buried alive in you know what. 

This clever extended dirty joke, complete with satirical preface and facetious printing permission (dated from Laval, 1 Sept. 1701), and a final selection of verses sung at the royal marriage, at some point became associated with the fairy tale author Mlle. de Lubert (ca. 1702-ca. 1779), whose style it appears to parody. Either through a misunderstanding or as a joke the book was even sometimes attributed to her, notwithstanding both its contents and the date of the permission d’imprimer

This is the only 18th-century edition, but the book’s publishing history was garbled by Gay, who describes two 18th-century editions, dating the supposed first ca. 1701, based on the facetious permission, and a second edition from ca. 1790; according to Gay only the second edition contains the section titled Contes et devis... which appear in this edition on pp. 56-64. Confused library cataloguers have thus dated this edition to ca. 1790. Its typography, however, points to an earlier date. Stanford University holds a manuscript of the text from the Phillipps collection, with textual variants, dated 1716. Reprints appeared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

OCLC lists 4 copies in N. American libraries. Jannet, Bibliotheca scatologica (1850) 28; Gay-Lemonnyer II:581-2; Barbier II:833; Quérard, La France Littéraire V: 382; Cioranescu, 18. s., 40961. Cf. note in the Bulletin du bibliophile et du bibliothécaire, vol. 14, p. 645; D. Haase, ed., Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales (2008), I:590-91.

Item #2506

No longer available

See all items by