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. [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

  4. [SOUZA, Adélaïde de].

    Charles et Marie. Par l’auteur d’Adèle de Senange.

    Paris, Maradan, 1802.

    First edition of this novel describing British society at the beginning of the 19th century, written in the form of an aristocratic young Englishman’s diary.

    £400

  5. KARAMZIN, Nikolai Mikhailovich.

    Verhalen… Uit het Hoogduitsch vertaald.

    Leyden, P. H. Trap, 1808.

    First edition in Dutch of four of Karamzin’s most important short prose narratives: Natal’ya, boyarskaya doch’ (Natalya, the Boyar’s daughter, 1792), Evgenii i Yuliya (Evgeniy and Julia, 1789), Bednaya Liza (Poor Lisa, 1792), and Frol Silin: blagodetel'nyi chelovek (Frol Silin, a Virtuous Man,...

    £600

  6. TOLMACHEV, Iakov Vasil’evich.

    Frantsuzskaia grammatika, razpolozhennaia legchaishim sposobom, s prisovokupleniem khrestomafii...

    Moscow, University Press, 1809.

    First edition, rare. The polyglot academic Iakov Tolmachev (1779–1873) published his highly successful French grammar the year he arrived in St Petersburg from Ukraine, where he grew up. Other editions came out in 1814, 1819, and 1827.

    £2800

  7. OZEROV, Vladislav Aleksandrovich.

    Sochineniia … Chast’ pervaia [–vtoraia] [Works … Part one [–two]].

    St Petersburg, Imperial Theatre, 1817 [-1816].

    One of two rival collected editions published after Ozerov’s death in 1816, rare, including the first appearance of the author’s poetry and his last tragedy Poliksena; this is the grander and fuller edition, with a more generous format and more illustrations, and includes his four major tragedies,...

    £1800

  8. KARAMZIN, Nikolai Mikhailovich.

    Aglaja. Romantische und historische Erzählungen. Nach dem Russischen des Karamzin herausgegeben...

    Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1819.

    First appearance of a collection of eight prose pieces by Karamzin (1766–1826) in German translation. Although the work takes the title of the first Russian literary almanac, Aglaia, published by Karamzin in two volumes, 1794–5, it is actually a selection of pieces by Karamzin taken both from Aglaia...

    £750

  9. KOZLOV, Ivan Ivanovich.

    Chernets, kievskaia povest’ [The monk, a tale of Kiev].

    St Petersburg, National Education Department Press, 1825.

    Rare first edition of Kozlov’s major work, a Byronic poem that brought him success on a par with that of Pushkin; the unsigned preface is probably by Zhukovsky, the introductory poem is dated September 1824. ‘The Monk was for twenty years of our century the same as Karamzin’s Poor Liza was for...

    £1800

  10. [ST PETERSBURG SUBSCRIPTION LIBRARY.] HOLTEI, Karl Eduard von.

    Lenore. Vaterländisches Schauspiel mit Gesang in drei Abtheilungen.

    Berlin, Duncker and Humblot, 1829.

    First edition of one of Holtei’s best-known plays, inspired by a ballad by Gottfried Bürger.

    £280

  11. DVIGUBSKII, Ivan Alekseevich.

    Opyt estestvennoi istorii vsekh zhivotnykh Rossiiskoi Imperii … S izobrazheniiami zhivotnykh. [Fly-title:]...

    Moscow, University Press, 1831

    First edition, rare, one of a series of six works on the flora and fauna of the Russian Empire, published 1829-1833 under the same general title. The present volume covers molluscs, including cephalopods and gastropods.

    £2000

  12. KOENIG, Heinrich Josef.

    Literarische Bilder aus Russland… Mit den Bildnissen von Dershawin und Puschkin.

    Stuttgart & Tübingen, Cotta, 1837.

    First edition. König’s popular survey of Russian literature for a German audience, published shortly after Pushkin’s death, which ‘kindled a lively debate with the result that Russian literature became a subject of everyday interest in Germany’ (Terras). König considers over forty Russian writers,...

    £450

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. OSTROVSKII, Aleksandr Nikolaevich.

    Bednaia Nevesta, komediia v piati deistviiakh [The poor bride, a comedy in five acts].

    Moscow, Stepanova, 1852

    First edition. A rare early play by one of the leading Russian playwrights of the 19th century. Ostrovsky’s second play, The Poor Bride, was first published in the literary magazine The Muscovite (edited by Mikhail Pogodin) earlier in 1852. Initially banned from production by the censor, it was one...

    £6500

  17. GOGOL’, Nikolai Vasil’evich.

    Tarass Boulba… traduit du russe par Louis Viardot.

    Paris, Librairie de L. Hachette et Cie, 1853.

    First separate appearance of Gogol’s story in the French translation by Louis Viardot, published in the series ‘Bibliothèque des chemins de fer’. The translation had previously appeared in 1845 in the collection ‘Nouvelles russes’, where Turgenev is named as co-translator.

    £250

  18. PISEMSKII, Aleksei Feofilaktovich.

    Povesti i razskazy … v trekh chastiakh [Stories and tales … in three parts] …

    Moscow, Stepanova, 1853.

    Very rare first collected edition of the works of Pisemsky, including the first appearance in book form of many of his acclaimed early stories (Tiufiak (The Muff, translated into English as The Simpleton), Pitershchik (The Petersburger), Mr Batmanov, Brak po strasti (Marriage by Passion), and Komik (The...

    £4800

  19. RADIUS, J. S. C. de.

    Characteristic Features of Russian and Slavic Poetry, with Specimens, translated by English Authors …

    London, printed by Seyfang & Co. [for the author], 1854.

    Only edition. This little book contains what must be some of the earliest translations of Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Slovene, Slovak, and Sorb verse into English. It certainly offers an early example of comparative Slavonic studies. Most of the specimens, however, are Russian, among them Delvig’s...

    £325