Foreign Literature

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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. MUSIL, Robert.

    Vinzenz und die Freundin bedeutender Männer. Posse in drei Akten.

    Berlin, Ernst Rowohlt Verlag, 1924.

    Rare first edition of Musil’s early farce.


  2. 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...



    Alla società delle gentilissime signore di Moncalieri dilettanti del giuoco del tavolazzo. Sonetto bernesco-morale...

    Turin, Giacomo Fea, 1799.

    An unrecorded sonnet addressed to the Society of the Gentlewomen of Moncalieri, a town just south of Turin whose castle is one of the Savoy Residences, and in particular to the ‘Abbess’ of the society, by the corps of soldiers stationed in the town shortly after the Battle of Marengo.


  4. 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...


  5. NICOLAI, [Christoph] Friedrich. 

    The Life and Opinions of Sebaldus Nothanker.  Translated from the German … by Thomas Dutton,...

    London: Printed by C. Lowndes, and sold by H. D. Symonds, 1798. 

    First edition in English, very scarce, of Nicolai’s Das Leben und die Meinungen des Herrn Magister Sebaldus Nothanker (1773–6), ‘probably the literary bestseller of the German Enlightenment’ (Selwyn), translated into many languages and much re-printed.  It is sometimes...



    Finis les mauvais jours! Papa gagne de l’argent en Allemagne! [The bad days are over! Daddy is earning money...

    [Paris], Office de Répartition de l´Affichage, 1943.

    Rare, encouraging the voluntary relocation of French workers from impoverished and semi-starved France to Germany factories.


  7. 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,...


  8. OLESHA, Iurii Karlovich.

    Zavist’. Roman, s risunkami Natana Al’tman [Envy. A novel, with drawings by Nathan Altman].

    Moscow-Leningrad, “Zemlia Fabrika, [1928].

    First edition of this famous short satirical novel which ‘catapulted Olesha into the first rank of Soviet writers’ (Terras). It was fêted by both Soviet and émigré critics and established the young writer’s reputation almost overnight. Olesha later adapted it as a play, Zagovor chuvstv (The...


  9. OLESHA, Iurii Karlovich.

    Zapiski pisatelia [Notes of a writer].

    Moscow, [“Ogonek” for] Journalists Union, 1931.

    Apparent first edition of Olesha’s autobiographical sketch. Olesha (1899–1960) is best known for the short novel Zavist’ (Envy, 1927), which was fêted by both Soviet and émigré critics and established the young writer’s reputation almost overnight. ‘A writer of great distinction, … as...


  10. OLESHA, Iurii Karlovich.

    Spisok blagodeianii … [List of blessings].

    Moscow, “Federatsiia”, 1931.

    First edition of the writer’s only original play. Olesha (1899–1960) is best known for the short novel Zavist’ (Envy, 1927), which was fêted by both Soviet and émigré critics and established the young writer’s reputation almost overnight. ‘A writer of great distinction, … as subtle –...


  11. OSTROGORSKII, Aleksandr Iakovlevich.

    Zhivoe slovo. Kniga dlia izucheniia rodnogo iazyka [Living word. A book for learning our native...

    New York, Association Press, 1920.

    Stereotype (first American?) edition. First published in 1907, Ostrogorsky’s (1868–1908) Zhivoe slovo was a runaway success in Russia, where it was widely regarded as the best reader of its type. Such high regard for the book presumably made it an obvious choice for it to be republished for the émigré...


  12. 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...


  13. 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,...


  14. PAGLIARANI, Elio.

    Inventario privato. Prefazione di Giacomo Zanga. Disegni di Alberto Casarotti.

    [Milan], Veronelli, [1959].

    First edition of the second published collection of poems by Elio Pagliarani (b. 1927), a member of the neo-avant-garde Gruppo 63. Pagliarani was the first of five poets to be anthologised by Alfredo Giuliani two years later in his important anthology I novissimi (1961), which in many ways can be seen...


  15. PARABOSCO, Girolamo. 

    Libro primo [- quarto] delle lettere amorose di M. Girolamo Parabosco.  Con alcune altre di nuovo aggiunte. 

    Venice, Domenico Farri, 1581.

    Uncommon collected edition of Girolamo Parabosco’s (1524–1557) immensely popular letters to anonymous lovers, literary contemporaries, and a courtesan, with several letters written from a female point of view, this copy formerly in the possession of Tycho Brahe’s nephew and with several manuscript...


  16. 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.


  17. PASTERNAK, Boris Leonidovich, translator. BARATASHVILI, Nikoloz.

    Stikhotvoreniia v perevode Borisa Pasternaka [Poems in translation...

    Moscow, “Pravda”, 1946.

    First edition, very rare. Nikoloz Baratashvili (1817–1845) is ‘the greatest of the Georgian Romantic poets … [and] one of the first Georgians to fire a modern nationalism with European Romanticism … He died of malaria, unmourned and unpublished. His influence was long delayed, until the Georgian...


  18. PASTERNAK, Boris Leonidovich.

    Dve knigi. Stikhi [Two Books. Poems].

    Moscow-Leningrad, Gosizdat, 1927.

    First collected edition of Pasternak’s two major early collections of verse, My Sister Life (1922) and Themes and Variations (1923).


  19. PASTERNAK, Boris Leonidovich.

    Na rannikh poezdakh [On early trains].

    Moscow, “Sovetskii pisatel’”, 1943.

    First edition of this collection of poems from the years 1936 to 1941. ‘With this collection Pasternak inaugurated a new phase in his poetry which many of his admirers have found disappointing, while others, notably Wladimir Weidlé, have greeted it as a liberation from false procedures. The latter...


  20. PASTERNAK, Boris Leonidovich.

    Zemnoi prostor [Expanses of Land].

    Moscow, “Sovetskii pisatel’”, 1945.

    First edition: Pasternak’s war poems.