4to (234 x 162mm), pp. [xvi], 1193, , title printed in red and black, woodcut initials and headpieces; some light browning and a few isolated spots, minor dampstain affecting some upper margins; 17th-century French calf, spine richly gilt; rubbed, skilfully rebacked preserving spine compartments, corners restored, nonetheless a very good copy; provenance: ‘Mad[ame] La Marquise d’Agoult’ (18th-century ownership inscription on front free endpaper).
Added to your basket:
Les voyages advantureux de Fernand Mendez Pinto. Fidelement traduicts de portugais en françois par le Sieur Bernard Figuier gentil-homme portugais. Et dediez à Monseigneur le Cardinal de Richelieu.
First edition in French of Mendes Pinto’s celebrated travel account; rare. The original Portuguese edition was published in 1614, although the first draft of the book had been completed by 1569. The present ‘atmospheric and faithful French translation’ (Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe, III, p. 401) is by Bernard Figuier (probably Bernardo Figueiro) and was reprinted in 1645 and 1663. Figuier seems to have made use of both Portuguese and Spanish versions for his translation.
Mendes Pinto sailed from Lisbon for India in 1537 and spent the next 20 years travelling extensively in Asia and the Far East, including the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, China and Japan. ‘The veracity of his lively account of his “peregrinations” (as he called them) has been challenged, but although his tales may be exaggerated and in some cases borrowed, they remain entertaining, and the work is considered a classic of Portuguese literature. Mendes Pinto claimed to be one of the first Europeans to enter Japan, in 1542 or 1543, and to have introduced the musket there […]. While a number of the details of his work are obviously taken from other accounts, such as the visits to Ethiopia and Tibet, the overall picture of Asia in the first half of the sixteenth century has undoubted authenticity’ (Hill p. 400).
‘Gifted with keen imagination, [Mendes Pinto] could exaggerate when expediency required, but he knew that in the account of his travels exaggeration was not expedient, and he was constantly on guard against the notorious scepticism of his fellow-countrymen. He may have heightened the colour occasionally, but as a rule he writes with restraint, although with delight in a good story and skill in bringing out the dramatic side of events. It is one of the charms of his work that it is very definite in dates and figures, but this also, through inevitable errors and misprints, afforded a handle to the pedantry of critics [...]. But [...] modern travellers have unequivocally confirmed the more favourable verdict and corroborated his detailed descriptions of Eastern countries. The mystery of the East, the heavy scent of its cities, its fervent rites and immemorial customs, as well as the magic of adventure, haunt his pages. A hundred pictures refuse to fade from the memory, whether they are of silk-laden Chinese junks or jars of gold dust, vivid descriptions of shipwreck [...] or the awful pathos of the Queen of Martavão’s death, the sketch of a supercilious Chinese mandarin or of St. Francis Xavier tramping through Japan’ (A.F.G. Bell, Portuguese Literature, 1922, pp. 224–5).
Cordier Japonica 37 and Indosinica 111; Löwendahl 76; cf. Hill 1146 (first English edition of 1653).
You may also be interested in...
WRITTEN BY A WOMAN COSTA, Margherita.
Istoria del viaggio d’Alemagna del serenissimo Gran Duca di Toscana Ferdinando Secondo …
First and only edition of a rare account of the journey Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Granduke of Tuscany, made to celebrate his coming of age and taking on the running of government. Ferdinando II travelled from February to July 1628 and first visited Rome to pay homage to the Pope, then Loreto, Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Venice, Padua, Verona, Milan, Trent, passing into Germany, Munich, Ingolstadt and Nuremberg, then on to Prague, Salzburg, Linz, and Innsbruck where he met the Emperor, and then back to Florence.
THE FIRST ASCENT OF KILIMANJARO’S KIBO VOLCANO MEYER, Hans Heinrich Joseph.
Across East African Glaciers. An Account of the First Ascent of Kilimanjaro ... Translated from the German by E.H.S. Calder.
First English edition, standard issue. Hans Meyer (1858-1929), son of bookseller-turned-publisher Herrmann Julius Meyer and grandson of Joseph Meyer, the founder of the publishing house Bibliographisches Institut, built his reputation as one of the most famous explorers and mountaineers of his time especially on travels to the relatively recently defined region of German East Africa. Meyer’s celebrated narrative of his successful ascent of Kilimanjaro’s Kibo volcano in 1889 (the first to be documented), was originally published as Ostafrikanische Gletscherfahrten: Forschungsreisen im Kilimandscharo-Gebiet in 1890 (see the previous item). The ascent and Meyer’s account both attracted international interest, and Meyer gave his paper ‘Ascent to the Summit of Kilima-njaro’ to the Royal Geographical Society of London on 14 April 1890. This English edition appeared the year after the German and was translated by E. Harris Smith Calder, who, as ‘Miss E. Harris-Smith’, had co-written Ulu. An African Romance, a novel set on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and published in 1888.