Foreign Literature

Contact Donovan Rees

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. HUGO, Victor.

    Notre-Dame de Paris. Par Victor Hugo. Troisième edition … Tome premier [– deuxième].

    Paris, Charles Gosselin, 1831.

    First edition, third issue, of Victor Hugo’s great historical novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, one of 275 copies printed.


  2. JABÈS, Edmond.

    Trois filles de mon quartier. [Paris], G. L.

    M., [1948].

    First edition: one of 340 numbered copies, of which this is one of 300 on Alfama.


  3. JABÈS, Edmond.

    Le Livre des Questions.

    [Paris], Gallimard, [1963].

    First edition. This is the first of what was to become a series of seven books under this title published between 1963 and 1973: ‘the centrepiece of Jabès’s oeuvre’ (Stoddard). 20 numbered copies were printed on pur fil; ours is one of the unnumbered copies on ordinary paper.


  4. JABÈS, Edmond.

    El, Ou le dernier livre.

    [Paris], Gallimard, [1973].

    First edition, one of 40 numbered copies on vélin pur fil.


  5. JABÈS, Edmond.

    Le Livre des ressemblances.

    [Paris], Gallimard, [1976].

    First edition, one of 20 numbered copies on vélin d’Arches Arjomari Prioux.


  6. JABÈS, Edmond.

    L’Obscurité potable.

    [Paris], G.L.M., 1936.

    Rare first edition of this early collection of poems, published when Jabès was just 24: one of a limited edition of 212 copies, of which this is one of 12 on Hollande Pannekeok.


  7. JABÈS, Edmond.

    Trois filles de mon quartier.

    [Paris], G. L. M., [1948].

    First edition: one of 340 numbered copies, of which this is one of 15 on vélin du Marais.


  8. JABÈS, Edmond.

    La clef de voûte.

    [Paris], G.L.M., [1950].

    First edition: one of 400 numbered copies, of which this is one of 20 on vélin du Marais.


  9. JABÈS, Edmond.


    [Paris], Gallimard, [1967].

    First edition, one of 30 numbered copies on vélin pur fil.


  10. JABÈS, Edmond.

    [Paris], Gallimard, [1972].

    First edition, one of the issue of ordinary paper.


  11. JABÈS, Edmond.

    Les Pieds en l’Air. Poèmes précedés d’une lettre de Max Jacob. Couverture et dessins de Mayo.

    Cairo – Alexandria, “La Semaine Égyptienne”, [1934].

    First edition. One of 200 unnumbered copies on papier bouffant, part of a total edition of 373 copies. ‘… The Cairo/Alexandria journal La Semaine Égyptienne became Jabès’s publisher with Maman in 1932 and Les Pieds en l’air and Arches poétiques in 1934 and...


  12. JUSSIEU, Laurent Pierre de.

    Antoine et Maurice. Ouvrage qui a obtenu le prix proposé par la Société Royale pour l’amélioration...

    Paris, L. Colas, 1821.

    First edition, rare, of this unsurprisingly moralising novel by the writer, geologist, and natural historian Laurent Pierre de Jussieu (1792-1866), written in response to a competition held by the Royal Society of the Improvement of Prisons to find the best book to circulate amongst inmates.


  13. KAFKA, Franz, and Jean CARRIVE, translator.

    L’épée. Deux textes suivis d’un N.B. du traducteur.

    Paris, [Imprimerie des 2 Artisans], 1939.

    First separate edition in French of Das Schwert, and of an aphorism from Er: Aufzeichnungen aus dem Jahre 1920 (‘Er war früher Teil einer monumentalen Gruppe…’). The translations, by Jean Carrive, first appeared in Giration in July 1939, and are issued here as a tirage à part.


  14. [KRÜDENER, Barbara Juliane de Vietinghoff, Baronne de.]

    Valérie, ou Lettres de Gustave de Linar à Ernest de G… Tome...

    Paris, Henrichs, 1804.

    Rare first edition of Valérie, the most famous novel by the Russian mystic and novelist Madame de Krüdener (1766–1824), who for a time exerted an influence over Tsar Alexander I.


  15. [LOQUET, Marie-Françoise].

    Voyage de Sophie et d’Eulalie, au Palais du vrai bonheur; ouvrage pour servir de guide dans les voies...

    Paris, Charles-Pierre Berton, 1781.

    First edition of this rare utopian voyage written by a woman for a readership of women.



    Influence de l’Habitude sur la Faculté de Penser.

    Paris, Henrichs, 1803.

    First edition of Maine de Biran’s first major work, in which he draws a distinction between what he calls passive habits, i.e. sensations and impressions which become dulled with repetition, and active habits, i.e. those which are conscious, and willed. “The effect of this, which was borne out by...


  17. 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...


  18. 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...


  19. 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 La Chambre bleue, one of 129 copies printed. The first edition (‘Biarritz, 1866’ = Paris, Jules Claye, 1871) was published in only three copies.


  20. MESHCHERSKII, Elim Petrovich.

    Les boréales par B. de G. et le prince Elim Mestscherski …

    Paris, Bellizard, Dufour et Cie, 1839.

    First edition of a rare French anthology of Russian poets, including early translations of six poems by Pushkin.