Second, expanded edition of Gabriel Feydel's first book, a curious essay on swimming. Divided into three sections—swimming in general, the basics of the art, and the establishment of a school for swimming enthusiasts—the Essai is rather defensive and proud in tone, and presages Feydel's work as a journalist and cofounder of one of the first French-Revolutionary periodicals, l'Observateur. A minor rage for swimming was in force in Paris at the time, in no small part due to the city's principal American expat Benjamin Franklin's enthusiasm for the discipline. In the Essai, Feydel recounts an episode in which he saved a drowning man, and goes on to note the Paris customary law that governs rewards for saving those flailing in the Seine, or dragging to its banks those already drowned. On the added avis in our edition, Feydel remarks that although his book was printed in London, it was for sale at the Palais Royale in Paris, and furthermore complains (not without a little pride) that even though the text of his pamphlet was chosen for inclusion in Diderot's l'Encyclopédie, the editors there butchered his prose—the implication being that this second edition was wholly necessary to reassert Feydel's authority as both a writer and a professional nageur. The Essai can also be regarded as a kind of a response to, and critique of, a popular and successful new edition of Melchisédech Thévenot's illustrated book on swimming, which preceded Feydel's essay by a year. Feydel compares some lines of text in the first Thévenot edition (1696) with the 1782 edition, finding the newer badly wanting. Feydel's Essai is here bound with a preliminary avis, printed in red. A most compelling and uncommon work.
London: Anon, 1787.
Octavo, 228 x 137 x 10 mm (binding); 226 x 133 x 5 mm (text block). π1, A-H4; , 64 pp. Mid-19th-c. quarter vellum with vellum corners over grey calendered cloth, maroon morocco skiver lettering-piece titled and dated in gilt, later plain endpapers inserted. Binding worn and soiled, but sturdy and functional. Interior: Top edge gilt, deckles preserved, Avis with small portion of head fore-corner torn away (far from text), first two leaves toned and foxed, some damp-staining and soiling, mainly to margins, some leaves carelessly opened, last leaf cut short at fore-edge, not affecting text.
Not in ESTC. Two copies recorded in WorldCat, at BnF and Strasbourg. The first edition (published under the title Méthode sûre pour apprendre à nager en peu de jours, par Nicolas Roger [Paris: Legras, 1783]) is equally uncommon, with copies at BnF and U. Augsburg only.
Status: On Hold