Paris: Eugène Renduel, 1835. 2 vols., 8vo. 560 pp. 438 pp.
This dark comedic novel was commercially successful when issued and garnered the approval of Balzac ("Mais peut-être, avec autant de talent, étiez-vous tenu de tout savoir ? Le livre est d’une incontestable supériorité, de trop de supériorité même, il sera la lecture favorite de ceux qui dégustent, des hommes d’élite, et ceux-là sont en minorité."). It paints a picture of a "society rotten to the core, a society without faith, without law, without faith, without remorse and without pleasure." The protagonist, Edmond d'Offlize, boasts in a letter to a friend that he can seduce a very rich heiress whose face is so ugly that it would be acceptable "only in the land of the frogs." She is then pursued by d'Offlize and a friend (with whom he may share a romantic relationship) and a great muddle of manners ensues.
The Marquis de Custine (1790-1857) was a French aristocrat, perhaps most famous for his travel book, Empire of the Czar: A Journey Through Eternal Russia, published in 1839. He was avowedly homosexual and lived openly in Paris with his lover Edward Saint-Barbe, who remained his life companion. Aloys, his anonymously published novel deals explicitly with homosexuality long before such subjects were commonly written about. See Muhlstein, A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine.
Very good in later black boards, light wear, early signature on endpaper in volume 1. Uncommon.