Foreign Literature

Contact Donovan Rees or Joanna Skeels

This department specialises in rare and important works of French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and South American literature from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Here you can find first editions and signed or presentation copies of authors as diverse as Akhmatova, Balzac, Borges, Camus, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Goethe, Goldoni, Hugo, Kafka, Leopardi, Lorca, Manzoni, Pirandello, Pushkin, Schiller, Tolstoy, Zola, and many others. Among the important works which have passed through our hands are the original working manuscript of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, now in the Pushkin House in St Petersburg, the only known copy of the first edition of Brecht's first play, Baal (1920) with his working notes, and an extraordinary collection of Pushkin first editions.
  1. GART DER GESUNDHEIT.

    Mainz, Peter Schoeffer, 28 March 1485.

    First edition. The Mainz Gart der Gesundheit marks the beginning of scientific naturalism in botanical book illustration, representing a conspicuous departure from the iconographic conventions of earlier incunable herbals. It is the first book published by Schoeffer in a vernacular language, and for...

    £750

  2. ILLUMINATED

    INTITIAL from a manuscript Gradual or Antiphonal; initial 'U' painted in rose red with elaborate white tracery, the...

    The stylized decoration and use of bright colours, including the deep blue grape motif, recalls the art of Ferrara at the end of the third quarter of the 15th century. Compare, for example, an initial in a Bible painted for the Este family by Taddeo Crivelli (active from 1451, died 1479) which is now...

    £750

  3. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    Momus [or De principe].

    Rome, Jacopo Mazochi, 1520.

    First edition of this political and social satire by the great Renaissance architect, theorist, scholar and man of letters, Leon Battista Alberti. There were two editions published in Rome in 1520, one (the present) by Jacopo Mazochi, the other by Étienne Guillery. Both carry papal privileges,...

    £4600

  4. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    Hecatomphila che ne insegnia l’ingeniosa arte d’amore. Deiphira che ne mostra suggir il mal principiato...

    Venice, Giovanni Antonio et Fratelli da Sabbio ad instantia de Nicolo & Francesco Librari al Dolphin, 1528.

    A combined edition of the Ecatomfila and the Deifira, Alberti’s two dialogues on love. They originally appeared separately in 1471, probably the first works of literature by a living author printed in Italian. They treat the vagaries of love from different perspectives. In the Ecatomfila,...

    £8000

  5. TRISSINO, Giangiorgio.

    La Poetica.

    [Vicenza, Tolomeo Ianicolo, 1529 (colophon)].

    First edition, the corrected issue, of Trissino’s milestone essay on language, aesthetic and poetry. The first issue bears the erroneous date of 1549.

    £2200

  6. AEMYLIUS, Paulus (Paolo EMILIO).

    Historici clarissimi de rebus gestis Francorum…

    Paris, Michel Vascosan, 1550.

    Early editions of the three classical complementary chronicles of France from the fifth to the mid-sixteenth century, often issued and bound together.

    £750

  7. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    El Momo. La moral e muy graciosa historia del Momo; compuesta en Latin por el docto varon Leon Bapista...

    Alcalá de Henares, Joan Mey Flandro, 1553.

    First edition in Spanish of Alberti’s Momus [or De principe], translated by Augustín de Almaçan and with an introductory 8 pp. Exposición by the Toledo ascetic writer and scholar Alejo Venegas (1495?–1554?).

    £3800

  8. STRAPAROLA, Giovanfrancesco.

    Le Piacevoli Notti di messer Giovanfrancesco Straparola da Caravaggio.

    Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1558.

    An early edition of both volumes of Straparola’s Facetious Nights.

    £3250

  9. PARADIN, Guillaume.

    Gulielmi Paradini Anchemani Epigrammata ...

    Lyons, Ant. Gryphius, 1581.

    First and only edition of this French historian’s poetry including verses about or addressed to Ronsard, Pontus de Tyard, Claude Rouillet, and the Lyons printers Sébastien and Antoine Gryphe, and Jean de Tournes.

    £950

  10. [BOUCHER, Jean].

    Apologie pour Iehan Chastel Parisien, execute a mort, et pour les peres & escholliers, de la Societé de Iesus,...

    [Paris?], 1595.

    First edition of Boucher’s pseudonymous apology for Jean Châtel’s attempted assassination of Henri IV, described by the author as an ‘acte heroique’. Boucher (1548-1644) was prior and rector of the Sorbonne and an active member of the Catholic League who openly incited violent revolt against...

    £600

  11. [MELO, Antonio de.]

    La Famosa y temeraria compañia de Rompe Columnas. Traduzida, y acrescentada, por el Capitan Flegetonte, comico...

    Paris, Joseph Cotterau, 1609.

    First edition, rare, a loose translation by Antonio de Melo of the burlesque Della compagnia de Tagliacantoni (1601), by Tommaso Buoni.

    £4500

  12. [ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY]. NATHANAEL, Abbot, compiler.

    Kniga o vere edinoi istinnoi pravoslavnoi [Book of the one true Orthodox...

    Moscow, Stefan Boniface, 1648.

    First edition, very rare, of a book of Orthodox liturgy and theology. Beginning with prayers, this is a compilation of writings on all aspects of the Orthodox tradition, including a variety of polemical treatises against heretics, Catholics, and traitors to the Orthodox faith, some of which has been...

    £7500

  13. VILLEHARDOUIN, Geoffroy de (Charles du Fresne DU CANGE, editor).

    Histoire de l’empire de Constantinople sous les empereurs françois,...

    Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1657.

    First collected edition, comprising the third edition of Villehardouin’s chronicle, edited and translated by Du Cange, and the first edition of Du Cange’s history of the Latin empire in the Levant. The original and modern French versions of Villehardouin’s chronicle are printed on opposite pages....

    £1400

  14. [ITALIAN.]

    [BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.] Il Libro delle Preghiere publiche ed Amministrazione de Sacramenti, ed altri Riti e Cerimonie...

    Londra, Appresso Moise Pitt Libraro … 1685.

    First edition of the first translation of the Book of Common Prayer into Italian. The project was begun by Edward Browne while chaplain to Sir John Finch in Constantinople, perhaps incorporating an earlier, unpublished translation by William Bedell (the manuscript being listed in Griffiths’ Bibliography...

    £1250

  15. ROSA, Salvator.

    Satire, dedicate a Settano.

    “In Amsterdam, Presso Severo Prothomastix” [Rome, c. 1690].

    The literary triumph of the great Baroque painter. This is the true first edition, not to be confused with the reprints and counterfeits. No.1 in Uberto Limentani, Bibliographia della vita e delle opere di Salvator Rosa (Florence, 1995).

    £1100

  16. RABELAIS, François.

    The Works … or the Lives, heroic Deeds and Sayings of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Done out of French by sir...

    London, Printed for Richard Baldwin … 1694.

    First editions of Books 3 and 4, second (or third) edition of Books 1 and 2, evidently issued together, wanting Book 5 (also 1694, separately paginated). Urquhart’s translation (of Books 1-3), completed by Motteux, has been called ‘the finest translation ever made from one language into another’...

    £1500

  17. ZORGDRAGER, Cornelis Giisbertsz.

    Bloeijende Opkomst der aloude en hedendaagsche Groenlandsche Visschery … Uitgebreid met eene...

    In s’Gravenhage [The Hague], By P. van Thol en R. C. Alberts, Boekverkopers. 1727.

    Second edition, corrected, brought up to date, and much enlarged by Abraham Moubach, of a classic work on the Greenland whale fishery (first published 1720), the most extensive early Dutch work on the subject and one of the most authoritative in any language. ‘It must always be one of the chief sources...

    £3500

  18. VOLTAIRE, François Marie Arouet de.

    Le Brutus de Monsieur de Voltaire, avec un Discours sur la Tragédie.

    Paris, J. F. Josse, 1731.

    First edition. Voltaire wrote the first act of his play Brutus in English during his 1726-29 visit to England while staying at Wandsworth with Fawkener, and finished the play in French in Paris. It was first performed in Paris on 11 December 1730 when its portrayal of tension between patriotism and love...

    £850