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. KUNZE, Reiner.

    Aber die Nachtigall jubelt. Heitere Texte.

    Halle, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1962.

    First edition. An early collection of poems illustrated by three contemporary Czech artists, Jaroslav Bejček, František Peterka and Richard Tápal. In 1962 Kunze married his German-Czech wife Elisabeth Littnerova, and through her came into contact with many Czech artists and poets.


  2. [KAFKA, Franz.]

    Almanach des Schocken Verlags auf das Jahr 5695.

    Berlin, Schocken Verlag, 1934/35.

    Pp. 96-103 contain Kafka’s Aufzeichnungen über eine jüdische Wandertruppe, the description of his meeting with a troupe of Yiddish actors in the Café Savoy in Prague in 1911. This encounter was to have a profound effect on his writing. The passage was later published in an extended version in the...


  3. BELISHEVA, S. P., translator.

    ‘An die Fantasie, aus dem russischen.’ Manuscript on paper of an apparently unrecorded poem in...

    Germany, c. 1830

    A contemporary manuscript of an early 19th century Russian poem, translated into German, and signed by the, possibly pseudonymous, translator ‘Fräulein S. P. Belischef’. We have been unable to identify the original poem, in praise of poetic imagination and the heights it can attain, from which the...


  4. GRASS, Günter.

    Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke.

    Neuwied & Darmstadt, Luchterhand, 1972.

    First edition: an account of Grass’s travels as a campaigner for the Social Democrats and Willy Brandt in the 1969 election, interwoven with a story about Hermann Ott, a collector of snails, who takes refuge from the Nazis with a Kashubian who wants to become a German.


  5. GRASS, Günter.

    Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke.

    [Neuwied & Darmstadt,] Luchterhand, [1972].

    First edition: an account of Grass’s travels as a campaigner for the Social Democrats and Willy Brandt in the 1969 election, interwoven with a story about Hermann Ott, a collector of snails, who takes refuge from the Nazis with a Kashubian who wants to become a German.


  6. GRASS, Günter.


    Neuwied & Berlin, Luchterhand, 1967.

    First edition.


  7. DÖBLIN, Alfred.

    Berlin Alexanderplatz. Traduit de l’Allemand par Zoya Motchane. Préface de Pierre Mac Orlan.

    [Paris], Librairie Gallimard, [1933].

    With a punning signed presentation inscription to front endleaf, perhaps addressed to a female fellow-drinker in Paris: ‘Hommage respectueux à Mlle Bouvoirde! Alfred Döblin, Paris, 23.XII.36’. If this is a word-play on ‘bavarde’ (she who talks too much) and ‘buveuse’ (she who drinks too...


  8. LESSING, Gotthold Ephraim.

    Briefe, antiquarischen Inhalts. Erster [-Zweyter] Theil.

    Berlin, Friedrich Nikolai, 1768-9.

    First edition in book form of a collection of 57 letters which were first published in Hamburg periodicals. They were written by Lessing in reply to Adolf Klotz’s attack on his Laokoon (1766), and are both a defence of Laokoon and at the same time a counter-attack on Klotz’s own book.


  9. GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von, and Carl Friedrich ZELTER.

    Briefwechsel zwischen Goethe und Zelter in den Jahren 1796 bis 1832. Herausgegeben...

    Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1833-34.

    First edition, printed on a superior paper to the regular issue, in an attractive and well-preserved contemporary binding.


  10. GRASS, Günter.

    The Danzig Trilogy [The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse and Dog Years].

    New York, Pantheon & Harcourt Brace & World, 1962-65.

    First US editions, all translated by Ralph Manheim, and first published in the original German in 1959, 1961 and 1963.


  11. HOFMANNSTHAL, Hugo von.

    Das Gespräch über Gedichte.

    [Berlin, Hyperion, 1918.]

    One of 250 numbered copies. First separate edition of Hofmannsthal’s ‘Dialogue about poems’, which was originally published in 1904 in Unterhaltung über literarische Gegenstände under the title ‘Über Gedichte’.


  12. HESSE, Hermann.

    Das Glasperlenspiel.

    Zurich, Fretz und Wasmuth Verlag, 1943.

    First edition of Hesse's last, quintessential work. It occupied him for eleven years, and was published in 1943, the year in which Hesse's name was placed on the black-list of authors in Germany.


  13. [KAFKA, Franz, et al.]

    Das Jüdische Prag. Eine Sammelschrift.

    Prague, Verlag der “Selbstwehr”, 1917 [i.e. 1916].

    First edition, rare: an anthology produced by the Prague German-language Zionist weekly newspaper Der Selbstwehr, including the first authorised appearance in print of Kafka’s Ein Traum, one of only two excerpts from Der Prozess which were published during Kafka’s lifetime. It is now thought that...


  14. [VOLTAIRE.]

    Das Mädchen von Orleans. Ein komisches Heldengedicht in zwölf Gesängen nach Voltaire frei bearbeitet.

    Neustadt, ‘im Verlags-Comptoir’, n. d. [mid nineteenth century].

    A freely adapted German rendition of La Pucelle d’Orleans, very rare. Fromm gives the date as around 1865 (and the place of publication as Hamburg), the online Staatsbibliothek catalogue (the only copy listed by KVK) as c.1830.


  15. GRASS, Günter.

    Das Treffen in Telgte. Eine Erzählung.

    Darmstadt & Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1979.

    First edition.


  16. KAFKA, Franz.

    Das Urteil [in Arkadia. Ein Jahrbuch für Dichtkunst. ed. Max Brod.]

    Leipzig, Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1913.

    First edition of this anthology, which includes the first appearance in print of Kafka’s story Das Urteil. The text differs in numerous small ways from that of the first book edition published in 1916 (see next item). Other authors represented in the collection, which was edited by Max Brod, include...


  17. [CELAN, Paul (translator).] UNGARETTI, Giuseppe.

    Das verheissene Land. Das Merkbuch des Alten. Deutsch von Paul Celan.

    [Frankfurt am Main], Insel Verlag, [1968].

    First edition: Celan’s translation of Ungaretti’s collections, La terra promessa (1950) and Il taccuino del vecchio (1960).


  18. TIECK, Ludwig.

    Der Aufruhr in den Cevennen. Eine Novelle in vier Abschnitten. Erster und zweiter Abschnitt (all published).

    Berlin, G. Reimer, 1826.

    First edition, rare. One of the first important German novels to be inspired by Walter Scott, and a major work of Tieck’s later years.


  19. GRASS, Günter.

    Der Butt.

    Darmstadt & Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1977

    First edition: a review copy, with the words ‘Unkorrigiertes, unverkäufliches Lese-Exemplar’ printed on front cover.


  20. GRASS, Günter.

    Der Butt.

    Darmstadt & Neuwied, Luchterhand, 1977

    First edition.