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. MARIVAUX, Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de.

    Le Paysan parvenu: or, the fortunate Peasant. Being Memoirs of the Life of Mr. ––––....

    London: Printed for John Brindley … Charles Corbett … and Richard Wellington … 1735

    First edition in English, originally published in French in the Hague in 1734-5. This is the second of the two important novels by Marivaux, which broke new ground in the art of writing fiction. ‘Where La Vie de Marianne belongs to the moralizing and sentimental romance tradition, Le Paysan...

    £650

  2. MAURIAC, François.

    Le Noeud de Vipères. Roman.

    [Paris], Bernard Grasset, [1932].

    First edition, one of 112 numbered copies on vélin pur fil. Le Noeud de Vipères is one of the major French Catholic novels of the 20th century: a marital drama, depicting an old lawyer's rancour toward his family, his passion for money, and his final conversion. ‘Written shortly after the resolution...

    £550

  3. MÉRIMÉE, Prosper.

    La Chambre bleue. Nouvelle dédiée à Madame de la Rhune.

    Brussels, Librairie de la Place de la Monnaie, 1872.

    Very rare first procurable edition of Mérimée’s novella The Blue Room, one of 129 copies printed. The first edition (‘Biarritz, 1866’ = Paris, Jules Claye, 1871) was published in only 3 copies.

    £750

  4. MESHCHERSKII, Elim Petrovich.

    Les roses noires par le prince Élim Mestscherskï.

    Paris, Amyot, 1845.

    First edition of this posthumous collection, which includes a short dramatisation of Pushkin’s The Gypsies, ‘un charmant poëme d’Alexandre Pouschkinn, le grand écrivain que pleure la Russie’.

    £600

  5. MORÉAS, Jean, pseud. [i.e. Iannis Papadiamantopoulos].

    Ériphyle, poème. Suivi de quatre Sylves.

    Paris, Bibliothèque Artistique & Littéraire, 1894.

    First edition of a collection of poems in the classical style. The Greek-born poet Jean Moréas had been a major figure in the Symbolist movement, writing its manifesto which was published in Le Figaro in 1886. In 1891, however, he defected to found the ‘École Romane’ with Charles Maurras, which...

    £200

  6. MUSSET, Alfred de.

    Rolla, poema … perevod N. P. Grekova [Rolla, a poem … translated by N. P. Grekov].

    Moscow, F. B. Miller, 1864.

    First edition in Russian of Musset’s Rolla (1833), a poetic reinterpretation of the Don Juan myth, translated by the poet Nikolai Porfir’evich Grekov (1810-1866). A bankrupt playboy decides to commit suicide, but first returns to a young prostitute to reflect on his wasted life. It is only as he...

    £1750

  7. NERVAL, Gérard de.

    Lorely, souvenirs d’Allemagne.

    Paris, D. Giraud et J. Dagneau, 1852.

    First edition, second issue, of a collection of Nerval’s writings on Germany. German Romanticism had a great influence on Nerval, and he was drawn to the country, visiting it seven times. At the age of 20, he published a translation of Faust which Goethe himself praised. Lorely opens with a long preface...

    £800

  8. OHNET, Georges.

    The Battles of Life. The Ironmaster. From the French of Georges Ohnet … by Lady G[eorgiana] O[sborne]. Authorized...

    London: Wyman & Sons … 1884.

    First edition in English. Le maître de forges (1882), one of a series of novels published by Ohnet under the title ‘Les batailles de la vie’, was a bestseller of French nineteenth-century sentimental fiction, and no less successful in England. Another English translation, by Ernest Vizetelly,...

    £450

  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. PUSHKIN, Aleksandr Sergeevich. DUPONT, H. (translator).

    Oeuvres choisies... traduites pour la première fois en français... Tome...

    St Petersburg, chez Fd. Bellizard et Cie; Paris, Au comptoir des Imprimeurs-unis, 1847.

    First collected edition of Pushkin in French, preceded in French translation only by some individual poems and stories, and a translation of The Queen of Spades in 1843. This is one of the earliest major collections of Pushkin to appear outside Russia.

    £2500

  11. 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

  12. RILKE, Rainer Maria.

    Les Fenêtres. Dix poèmes de Rainer Maria Rilke illustrés de dix eaux-fortes par Baladine.

    Paris, Officina Sanctandreana, 1927.

    First edition, one of 500 copies on pur fil, of a total edition of 515. A series of ten poems in French addressed by Rilke to his lover ‘Mouky’ or ‘Baladine’ Klossowska, who herself provided the illustrations. Elisabeth Dorothea Klossowska née Spiro (1886-1969) met Rilke in 1919, and became...

    £1200

  13. RIMBAUD, Arthur [and Paul VERLAINE].

    Les Stupra. Sonnets.

    Paris, Imprimerie particulière [Albert Messein], 1871 [i.e. 1923].

    First edition, one of only 175 copies. Two of these three homoerotic sonnets (stupra = defilements) are printed here for the first time. The final one, known as the ‘Sonnet du trou du cul’, is infamous. Written together with Verlaine (he wrote the two quatrains, Rimbaud the sestet), it is one of...

    £1500

  14. ROBBE-GRILLET, Alain.

    Topologie d’une cité fantôme.

    Paris, Éditions de Minuit, 1976.

    First edition: a kind of intellectual detective story in which the reader becomes a collaborator in the solution of a crime as much his own creation as it is the author’s.

    £250

  15. ROBBE-GRILLET, Alain.

    Un Régicide.

    [Paris], Les Éditions de Minuit, [1978].

    First edition, one of 87 copies on Alfa mousse (first paper).

    £300

  16. ROBBE-GRILLET, Alain.

    Souvenirs du Triangle d’Or.

    [Paris], Les Éditions de Minuit, [1978].

    First edition, one of 87 copies on Alfa mousse (first paper).

    £350

  17. ROMAINS, Jules, pseud. [i.e. Louis Farigoule].

    L’Âme des hommes.

    Paris, Bibliothèque de “La Société des Poètes français”, 1904.

    First and only edition of Jules Romains’ first book, with a signed presentation inscription on the half-title to the French local historian Ulysse Rouchon: ‘à Ulysse Rouchon, ce balbutiement, Jules Romains’.

    £500

  18. ROSTAND, Edmond.

    Chantecler. Pièce en quatre actes, en vers.

    Paris, Librairie Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1910.

    First edition, one of four copies printed on green paper, this copy printed specially for the publisher Eugène Fasquelle, and so designated on the verso of the half-title. The total edition numbered 1000 copies, with a few additional copies printed on yellow, blue, and green paper.

    £2800

  19. SAND, George, pseud. [i.e. Aurore DUPIN, baronne Dudevant].

    Kvintiliia. Sochinenie Zhorzh-Sanda. Perevod s frantsuzskago [Quintilia....

    St Petersburg, N. Grech, 1837.

    First edition in Russian of Le secrétaire intime (1834), an early appearance in Russian for the French novelist.

    £1800

  20. SOLOGBUB, Fedor Kuz’mich, pseud. [i.e. Fedor Teternikov], translator. BALZAC, Honoré de.

    Ozornye skazki [Contes drolatiques]…

    Petersburg, “Poliarnaia Zvezda”, 1922.

    First edition, very rare, of Sologub’s translation of two of Balzac’s satirical Contes drolatiques, ‘The fair Imperia’ and ‘The fair Imperia married’.

    £500