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. [VOLTAIRE.]

    Das Mädchen von Orleans. Ein komisches Heldengedicht in zwölf Gesängen nach Voltaire frei bearbeitet.

    Neustadt, ‘im Verlags-Comptoir’, n. d. [mid nineteenth century].

    A freely adapted German rendition of La Pucelle d’Orleans, very rare. Fromm gives the date as around 1865 (and the place of publication as Hamburg), the online Staatsbibliothek catalogue (the only copy listed by KVK) as c.1830.

    £400

  2. 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

  3. [VOLYNSKII, A., pseud. [i.e. Akim Lvovich Flekser.]

    Parfenon. Sbornik Pervyi [Parthenon. First collection (All published)].

    St Petersburg, “Parfenon”, 1922.

    The first and only issue of a literary journal edited by A. Volynsky (1863–1926). It includes contributions from Akhmatova (the poem ‘Kak mog ty’ published in Anno Domini/i> (1922)), Fet, Marietta Shaginian (an 8-page piece on her idol Goethe and Weimar), and others.

    £250

  4. WALSER, Robert.

    Der Gehülfe. Roman …

    Berlin, Bruno Cassirer, [1908].

    First edition, rare: the second of Robert Walser’s three novels (‘for my money his best book’, Michael Hofmann), which charts the decline of a family. Hermann Hesse wrote: ‘Although it is full of the atmosphere of the beginning of the century, this tale immediately wins us over with the timeless...

    £2250

  5. WEBER, Karl Maria Friedrich Ernst von.

    Hinterlassene Schriften … Erster Band [Tonkünstlers Leben, eine Arabeske], Zweiter Band,...

    Dresden and Leipzig, Arnold, 1828.

    First edition of Weber’s work as novelist, critic, and music journalist; a second edition was published in 1850. The achievements Weber made in his short life (he died aged 39) tend to be overshadowed by the success of Der Freischütz (1821). But ‘to view Weber’s accomplishments primarily through...

    £950

  6. WOLKE, Christian Heinrich.

    Das Buch für Anfänger im Lesen und Denken …

    St. Petersburg, Breitkopf, 1785.

    First edition, a rare work on children’s education to which Immanuel Kant was a subscriber. Editions in French (Livre pour apprendre à lire et à penser, 1785) and Russian (Kniga dlia chteniia i razmyshleniia, 1786) followed.

    £1600

  7. WOLZOGEN, Caroline von.

    Literarischer Nachlass. Erster [-Zweiter] Band.

    Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1848-9.

    First edition of this collection of the miscellaneous writings of Schiller’s sister-in-law, Caroline von Wolzogen (1763-1847).

    £300

  8. ZAMIATIN, Evgenii Ivanovich.

    Nechestivye rasskazy [Impious Tales].

    [Moscow,] ‘Krug’ writers’ cooperative, 1927.

    First edition of a collection of eight short stories by the increasingly dissident Zamyatin, including ‘Iks’ [‘X’] and ‘Rasskaz o samom glavnom’ (‘Tale of the most essential thing’), ‘the single most important work of Zamjatin’s transitional period’ (Shane). ‘Iks’ tells the...

    £200

  9. [ZHUKOVSKII, Vasilii Andreevich.] SEIDLITZ, Carl von.

    Wasily Andrejewitsch Joukoffsky. Ein Russisches Dichterleben.

    Mitau, E. Behre, 1870.

    First edition: a biography of the poet and translator Vasily Zhukovsky (1783–1852), ‘the founder and leading representative of early Romanticism in Russian literature’ (Terras).

    £250

  10. 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

  11. ZOSHCHENKO, Mikhail Mikhailovich.

    Izbrannye rasskazy i povesti 1923-1956 [Collected stories and tales 1923-1956].

    Leningrad, ‘Soviet Writer’, 1956.

    First complete edition of Zoshchenko’s shorter prose fiction, including his stories for children; a presentation copy to his friend the dramatist, translator and poet Muza Konstantinovna Pavlova (1917-2006).

    £450

  12. ZOSHCHENKO, Mikhail Mikhailovich.

    Chort znaet chto takoe [Devil knows what it is] …

    [Riga, “Van’ka-Vstan’ka”,] 1927.

    First editions, very rare, of five collections of sketches, short stories and poems, mostly comic, most with a brief biography of the author; these make up the first five books (published in June 1927) of a series of 31 to be published at monthly intervals alongside a humorous newspaper Van’ka-Vstan’ka.

    £350

  13. ZRITEL’

    [The Observer] No. 24.

    St Petersburg, “Sever”/A. M. Lesman, 1905.

    A very rare number, confiscated by the authorities, of the very first of the satirical magazines to come out of the 1905 Revolution. 25 numbers were published, between 5 June and 11 December 1905, edited by Yu. K. Artsybyshev. Contributors include Fedor Sologub, and the artists Epifanov and Shestopalov,...

    £750

  14. ZUZORIĆ, Bernard.

    Besjedde Duhovne oza Bernarda Zuzzeri Dubrovcjanina Druscbe Jesussove recene prid skupsctinom dobre smærti...

    Dubrovnik, Andrea Trevisan, 1793.

    First edition of a collection of sermons by the Croatian Jesuit Bernard Zuzorić (1683-1762). The Jesuit College in Dubrovnik had been established in 1658, but Zuzorić became a novitiate in Rome; although the praise of his superiors led him towards a professorship of rhetoric, he abandoned his studies...

    £650

  15. ZVIAGINTSEVA, Vera Klavdievna.

    Na mostu. Stikhotvoreniia [On the Bridge. Poems.].

    Moscow, [Gostip,] 1922.

    First edition. This is one of Zviagintseva’s (1894–1972) earliest publications. She also produced translations of Armenian, Estonian, and Ukrainian poetry.

    £100

  16. RUSSIAN SATIRICAL MAGAZINES
    FROM THE 1905 REVOLUTION

    The boom years of 1890s Russia came to an abrupt halt at the turn of the century when an economic slump left many of the new urban working class jobless and led to unrest in the countryside. The Tsar’s popularity took another knock when hopes of a quick military victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904)...

    £18000