"Cinq jours & cinq nuits, episode du dix-huitième siècle" manuscript draft
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
An unidentified author wrote "Cinc jours & cinq nuits, episode du dix-huitième siècle," probably in the early 19th century. There is no indication of who the author might be; however, epistolary novels gained popularity in France in the 1750s through the 1800s. According to Godfrey Frank Singer, "with the advent of the nineteenth century, the letter novel continued to be written in French from time to time," (page 186). The introduction is written from the point of view of a person who is traveling, gets caught in a storm and is forced to shelter in a public house. There, he or she discovers the thirty letters that tell the story.
The story follows the characters of Eléonore and Clémence, two friends; Delson and St. Val, two friends; and Colonel de Selez, Eléonore's brother. Both Eléonore and Clémence are married, but Delson pursues Clémence and St. Val pursues Eléonore. Both women eventually are seduced and the situation deteriorates rapidly, with Clémence becoming ill, Delson and Eléonore becoming friends, and St. Val becoming jealous of Delson. In the 27th letter, St. Val challenges Delson to a duel; by the 28th letter, Clémence has died; and by the last letter, Colonel de Selez reports that St. Val has killed Delson in the duel and that he, de Selez, has killed St. Val. This tragey ends with Colonel de Selez leaving France to avoid arrest, and bidding Eléonore farewell, perhaps forever.
Singer, Godfrey Frank. The Epistolary Novel: Its Origin, Development, Decline, and Residuary Influence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.
This epistolary novel, titled "Cinc jours & cinq nuits, episode du dix-huitième siècle," is introduced by a letter from the "author" to an unidentified woman (À Madame), in which he or she describes finding the letters in a public house. The story that follows is told in thirty letters, each one headed by the number of the letter (lettre première, etc.), the author and the recipient of each letter, and usually a time of day that the letter was sent. Within each letter, the names of the characters are in a bolder script. The handwriting is elegant and easy to decipher and the tone is dramatic in nature.
Sold by Adam Weinberger Rare Books, 2022.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Holly Mengel and Kelin Baldridge
- Finding Aid Date
- 2023 January 19
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.