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Treasures of the Rare Books and Special Collections Library: Manuscripts

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Cyrano de Bergerac. L'autre monde, ou, les empires et estats de la lune.
Circa 1640-1650.
L'autre monde.... Click to enlarge.

A manuscript version of Cyrano de Bergerac's utopian first novel. Copies of Cyrano's texts were known to have been circulated in manuscript form long before they appeared as printed books, and in this case a printed version only appeared posthumously in 1657. The printed version was extensively expurgated to remove passages which could give offence to religious and secular authorities. This is one of three versions of this particular text which exist in this manuscript format. Detailed study has revealed that the version held in the University of Sydney is probably slightly the oldest of these three extant versions.

The manuscript has been in the possesssion of a number of notable historical figures during its lifetime. Among these were the famous English collector, Sir Thomas Phillipps, and Dr Antoine Louis, the man who was given the task of perfecting the guillotine, which was first called the Louison or Louisette in his honour. The work was acquired by the University in 1977.

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