L'homme-femme. Réponse a M. Henri d'Ideville.

Paris, Michel Lévy Frères, 1872.

Lex 8vo (24,8 x 16 cm). Bound uncut and with the original front wrapper in a nice early/mid 19th century green half morocco binding with five raised bands and gilt lettering to spine. Very light wear to edges and to raised bands. Front wrapper a little dusty and partly mounted on a piece of paper. Two small nicks to outer blank margin and with handwritten pencil-annotation to blank top as well as pencil-inderlining of the author, title, and year and with the publisher information lightly crossed out, also in pencil (all indicating layout-corrections, perhaps for following issues). A nice and clean copy. (4), 177 pp. 

4-line Handwritten presentation-inscription to half-title, "à Regnière", dated 12 Febryary 1873 and signed "A Dumas."

Scarce first printing – presentation-copy and one of 31 large paper copies, being no. 20 of 25 numbered copies on Hollande (out of a total of 31 numbered copies - 1 on vélin, 5 on Chine, and 25 on Hollande) - of the seminal work that coined the word "feminist", to refer to liberated women.   

Written as a response to an article by Henry d’Ideville, where he poses the question “should the adulterous woman be killed?”, Dumas’ l’Homme-Femme (“The Man-Woman”), which advocates the right of a man to kill his adulterous wife (something legal under the Napoleon Civil Code of 1804) stirred intense controversy across Europe and became an instant bestseller, with 50,000 copies sold in 3 weeks, 49 reprints, and several subsequent translations.

“The feminists (excuse this neologism) say .... all the evil rises from the fact that we will not allow that woman is the equal of man”, Dumas writes in the present work, coining the word “feminist” and at the same time indicating a lack of sympathy with the emerging women’s rights battle. Generally, he saw life "as a battle between the woman and the man", although his views on the subject were nor black and white. In spite of his reactionary views, he did respect what women might become, and even helped a few gifted young women to achieve their intellectual potential.

"The words feminism and feminist are used today throughout the Western world to connote the ideas that advocate the emancipation of women, the movements that have attempted to realize  it, and the individuals who support these goals. Few people in the English-speaking world realize, however, that the origin of these terms can be traced to nineteenth-century French political discourse.

The earliest origins of the French word “féminisme” and its derivatives are still obscure. Their roots should be traceable to the political agitation of the 1830s, during which time the related words socialisme and individualisme made their appearance in the political vocabulary of French-speaking peoples. …

The term “féministe” has a less problematic history. The Robert dictionary gives the date as 1872 and attributes first usage to the French playwright and essayist, Alexandre Dumas fils. This usage can be verified; indeed, the word does appear in Dumas's L'Homme-femme (1872).” (Karen Offe, On the French Origin of the Words Feminism and Feminist, pp. 45-47).

“In his work, Dumas probably coined the term “feminists” for the first time to refer to people who claimed 'that women are equal to men, and should be given the same education and rights as men.” (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München).

The few numbered copies of this seminal work are extremely rare. We have not been able to trace a single copy apart from the present, neither at auction nor in libraries. The normal issue is in 12mo and significantly smaller than the 31 copies on large paper. The first issue of that is not common either.

Order-nr.: 60341

DKK 50.000,00