MIRBEAU, Octave (1848-1917)
Paris : Bibliothèque-Charpentier, 1913. First edition, limited to 175 numbered copies; the present copy is one of 25 printed on papier impérial du Japon with wide margins (copy no. 15). Tall octavo, fine signed binding of Paul Affolter dated 1923 of full black crushed morocco, spine with raised bands lettered in gilt, with gilt dentelles at head and tail, all edges gilt, inner boards ruled in triple gilt, crimson silk lining papers, marbled endpapers, 422 pp, a fine copy in a magnificent signed binding; housed in a marbled slipcase.
The final novel by the French writer Octave Mirbeau, Dingo was completed by his colleague Léon Werth. The story is a disturbing allegory of the violent unpredictability and murderous impulses that lurk deep within the human psyche, the protagonist being a wild dingo whose existence within contemporary French society is described through the first-person narrative of his owner. The chief redeeming quality of the animal is, however, one that is often lacking in common human behaviour: the dingo’s spontaneous interactions with its immmediate environment are instinctive and truthful, neither denying the creature’s real desires nor masking its own identity. Mirbeau paints the dingo as a paradox of outward savagery and profound harmony, a depiction which perhaps comes close to inverting our general perception of so-called civilised humanity.
No copy of the first edition on papier impérial du Japon is recorded in Australian collections.