12mo (129 x 76 mm.). viii, 64 pp. Half-title. Expressive woodcut vignette on title (a chamber pot and its contents). Occasional light spotting. 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, parodying the fairy tales of Mlle Lubert. 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 extended dirty joke, complete with satirical preface and printing permission (dated from Laval, 1 Sept. 1701), and a final selection of verses sung at the royal marriage, parodies the style of Mlle. de Lubert (ca. 1702-ca. 1779), daughter of a President of Parlement, friend of the salonnière Mme de Graffigny, and dedicatee of two poems by Voltaire. Little is known of her life, other than what can be gleaned from references to her in literary correspondence of the period. She wrote over a dozen novels, novellas, poems, and fairy tales, “most published between 1743 and 1756. Her tales are humourous and, at times, irreverent” (Haase).
Stanford University holds a manuscript of the text, with textual variants, dated (falsely) 1716: the attribution to Mlle de Lubert is questioned by the Stanford cataloguers, but the work has been associated with her since at least the 19th century. The publishing history is unclear. Gay and after him Barbier describe two 18th-century editions, dating the first to ca. 1701 (not noting that Mlle de Lubert was still unborn at that time), based on the facetious printing permission, and a second edition dated ca. 1790; according to Gay only the second edition contains the section titled Contes et devis... which appears in this copy on pp. 56-64. However, library catalogues seem to locate only the present edition, dated either [ca. 1701] or [ca. 1790]. The typography in fact points to a date somewhere in between. Reprints appeared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
OCLC lists 3 copies in N. American libraries (Harvard, U. Indiana Kinsey Institute, U. Ottawa). Bibliotheca scatologica (1849) 28; Gay-Lemonnyer II:581-2; Barbier II:833 (both misdating and apparently describing a ghost edition); 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