Item #4283 Cinquante Aenigmes francoises ... avec les expositions d’icelles. Ensemble quelques Aenigmes Espagnolles. Alexandre VAN DEN BUSSCHE, called LE SYLVAIN, ca. 1535?-ca. 1585.
Cinquante Aenigmes francoises ... avec les expositions d’icelles. Ensemble quelques Aenigmes Espagnolles.
Cinquante Aenigmes francoises ... avec les expositions d’icelles. Ensemble quelques Aenigmes Espagnolles.
Cinquante Aenigmes francoises ... avec les expositions d’icelles. Ensemble quelques Aenigmes Espagnolles.
Cinquante Aenigmes francoises ... avec les expositions d’icelles. Ensemble quelques Aenigmes Espagnolles.
Black and white and read all over

Cinquante Aenigmes francoises ... avec les expositions d’icelles. Ensemble quelques Aenigmes Espagnolles. Paris: Gilles Beys, 1582.

Small 8vo (152 x 98 mm). 2 parts, separately titled: [4], 54 (recte 52); [4], 26 leaves. Part 1 in French, part 2 in Spanish. Roman and italic types. Woodcut printer’s device (Renouard 40) on titles, woodcut initials and headpieces. A modest copy, dampstaining throughout, a few leaf numbers cropped in second work. 19th-century boards. Provenance: table of contents and all but one (no. 27) of the first 32 enigmas in part 1 signed (at the end of the answers) Champaygne with paraph; manuscript corrections, matching the errata, in same hand, with same paraph; Emmanuel Louis Nicolas Viollet le Duc (1781-1857), book label, his sale, part 1 Paris, Maison Silvestre, 5 November 1849, lot 284. ***

First Edition, second issue, with only the date on the title changed (from 1581), of a delightful collection of riddles in verse. Part 2 contains completely different Spanish riddles. Printed in roman type on the first verso following each riddle, which are in italic type, are the answers. The enigmas to be cracked involve everyday objects or concepts: a balloon, a book, the ten fingers, fire, water, a fly, cannon powder, the year, a mirror, wine, playing cards, ink, etc. The solutions are listed in the tables of contents at front (rather spoiling the fun).

Van den Bussche dedicated both parts to the Dowager queen Elizabeth of Austria (1554-1592), Queen of France from 1570 until the death of her husband Charles IX in 1574, but the texts of the dedications differ. In the Spanish dedication he explains that some Spanish gentlemen, aware that he was composing enigmas, proposed some of their own riddles. While he was able to compose Spanish verses for some of these, he couldn’t finish them: perhaps this is why the second part announces 40 enigmas, but only contains 30. This was the Belgian poet’s last published book, and the only one in Spanish. Copies of the second part were evidently sold separately.

I have been unable to identify the Monsieur (or perhaps Madame) Champaygne who signed all but one of the first 32 answers, possibly simply to attest that he/she had solved the riddles, and who corrected all the errors noted in the errata. Viollet le Duc père, father of the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and the painter Adolphe Viollet-le-Duc, was a poet, self-taught philologist and passionate collector of Renaissance poetry.

USTC lists (in several entries) 19 copies of this issue and 4 of the 1581 issue. I locate 3 copies in US libraries (all of this 1582 issue): LC, Cleveland Public Library, and the Hispanic Society.

Cioranesco 21596 (1581); USTC 342770, 39778, 340727, & 345896 (Spanish only); Brunet I:1420; BM/STC French, p. 87; Iberian Books (IB) 63224; H. Helbig, Alexandre Sylvain de Flandre, sa Vie et ses Oeuvres (1861), p. 40, citing this copy.
Item #4283

Price: $3,500.00