Gita-Govinda, ein Indisches Singspiel ... aus der Ursprache ins Englische von W. Jones, und aus diesem ins Teutsche übersetzt, und mit einigen Erlaüterungen begleitet.

Weimar, Landes-Industrie-Comptoir, 1802.

8vo, pp. 84, with copper-engraved frontispiece ‘Krischna’ (signed ‘C. Miller’); printed in Roman letter with copper-engraved vignette ‘Kama’ to title; an excellent copy, clean and fresh throughout; in contemporary grey paste-paper over boards, gilt red paper label on spine, edges stained red; some light wear, red sealing wax to endpapers.

£475

Approximately:
US $602€555

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Gita-Govinda, ein Indisches Singspiel ... aus der Ursprache ins Englische von W. Jones, und aus diesem ins Teutsche übersetzt, und mit einigen Erlaüterungen begleitet.

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First and only separate edition of this uncommon German translation of Gita Govinda, a ‘devoutly erotic poem of the twelfth-century Bengali poet Jayadeva’ (ODNB).

Friedrich Majer (1772–1818), an associate of Goethe at Weimar and a significant influence on Schopenhauer, avidly collected material relating to India and lectured on the subject; ‘as the author of essays on Hindu mythology, translations of Sanskrit works, and mythological reference works, Majer became the chief German purveyor of Indic knowledge in his time’ (Wilson, p. 42). Here, he criticises Jones’ reading of the text, arguing that the English translation had become ‘an epic idyl, in design quite incomprehensible to the reader’ (ibid., p. 46). The present text is the first full translation of the Gita Govinda into German, appearing in the same year as Friedrich von Dalberg’s abridged version. Like von Dalberg, Majer translated the poem from William Jones’s English rendering (first published in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, in 1792), which Majer here criticizes for turning the text into an ‘epic idyl’ to suit European tastes (pp. 13-14, trans.).

Majer’s translation was (first?) printed in the Asiatisches Magazin in 1802 (vol. II, pp. 294-375); though both were published by the Landes-Industrie-Comptoir, the two printings are of different settings and it is only in the separate edition that the text is joined by two copper-engravings.

OCLC finds only two copies in the UK (BL and CUL) and only one in North America (Brown).

See A.L. Wilson, ‘Friedrich Majer: romantic Indologist’ in Texas Studies in Literature and Language 3, no. 1 (1961), pp. 40-49.

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