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.

    Unpolitische Lieder.

    Hamburg, Hoffmann and Campe, 1840–1.

    First edition of each work. Hoffmann (1784–1874), self-ennobled ‘von Fallersleben’, was first librarian (1823) and then professor of German language and literature (1830) at the University of Breslau, before his dismissal in 1842 due to the politically sensitive content of the supposedly Unpolitischen...


  2. HOFMANNSTHAL, Hugo von.

    Studie über die Entwickelung des Dichters Victor Hugo… Der philosophischen Facultät der Universität...

    Vienna, Verlag von Dr Hugo von Hofmannsthal, 1901.

    Rare first edition of Hofmannsthal’s Habilitationsschrift from Vienna University, on the poetry of Victor Hugo.


  3. 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’.


  4. HOFMANNSTHAL, Hugo von.

    Die Aegyptische Helena. Oper in zwei Aufzügen.

    [Leipzig, Mainzer Presse for Insel-Verlag, 1928.]

    First edition of Hofmannsthal’s text for Richard Strauss’s opera – Hofmannsthal himself considered it to be his finest libretto. The opera was first performed on 6 June 1928 in Dresden, five weeks before Hofmannsthal’s death. The plot is a free adaptation of Euripides’ Helena, which introduces...


  5. 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...


  6. [KAFKA, Franz.]

    Vom jüngsten Tag. Ein Almanach neuer Dichtung. Zweite veränderte Ausgabe.

    Leipzig, Kurt Wolff, 1917.

    Second, revised edition of this collective publication of the younger generation of German writers Wolff had assembled under the rubric of Der jüngste Tag. In addition to Kafka’s parable ‘Vor dem Gesetz’ (which appears unaltered from its appearance in the first edition of the almanac in 1916),...


  7. KAFKA, Franz.

    Ein Landarzt and Der Mord [in Die Neue Dichtung. Ein Almanach].

    Leipzig, Kurt Wolff, 1918.

    First edition, containing the first appearance in print of Kafka’s Ein Landarzt and Der Mord (later Ein Brudermord), both of which were published in the collection Ein Landarzt the following year, with significant textual differences. This important expressionist anthology also includes contributions...


  8. KAFKA, Franz.

    In der Strafkolonie.

    Leipzig, Kurt Wolff, 1919.

    First edition, one of 1000 copies printed, of Kafka’s story In the Penal Colony.


  9. KAFKA, Franz.

    In der Strafkolonie.

    Leipzig, Kurt Wolff, 1919.

    First edition, one of 1000 copies printed, of Kafka’s story In the Penal Colony.


  10. KAFKA, Franz.

    Ein Landarzt. Kleine Erzählungen.

    Munich & Leipzig, Kurt Wolff, 1919.

    First edition of this collection, including not only the title story and Ein Brudermord, but also Auf der Galerie, Vor dem Gesetz, Eine kaiserliche Botschaft, Ein Bericht für eine Akademie and eight other stories.


  11. KAFKA, Franz.

    Erstes Leid [in GENIUS. Zeitschrift für werdende und alte Kunst. Herausgegeben von Carl Georg Heise, Hans Mardersteig....

    Munich, Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1921 [i.e. 1922].

    The first appearance in print of ‘Erstes Leid’, which was later published in the collection Ein Hungerkünstler.


  12. [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...


  13. KAFKA, Franz.

    Zámek. Román.

    Prague, Mánes, 1935.

    First edition in Czech of Kafka’s The Castle (1926), translated by Pavel Eisner. Eisner (1889-1958) was an essayist and prolific translator between German and Czech. His translations of The Castle and The Trial introduced Kafka’s works to a wider Czech readership.


  14. KAFKA, Franz.

    Journal intime suivi de Esquisse d’une autobiographie, Considérations sur le péché, Méditations. Introduction...

    Paris, Bernard Grasset, [1945].

    First edition of these translations from Kafka’s diary, and other pieces. One of 43 copies printed on vélin pur fil.


  15. KAFKA, Franz.

    Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Posthumous Prose Writings.

    London, Secker and Warburg, 1954.

    First edition in English. Translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins, with notes by Max Brod. ‘Although Kafka’s almost unceasing guilt and anxieties seem to mark him as a man of pestilential morbidity and gloom, it is not the important effect he has on us. He has a kind of cunning. His plain and...


  16. KAFKA, Franz.

    Frants Kafka: roman, novelly, pritchi [Franz Kafka: a novel [The Trial], novellas, parables].

    Moscow, “Progress”, 1965.

    First edition in Russian of Der Prozess, part of the ‘recent unprecendented publication’ (Struc) of Kafka in Russian. Also published here are a number of short stories, some of which had previously appeared in Ukrainian and Russian in Soviet periodicals. The translators include R. Rait-Kovaleva,...


  17. [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...


  18. KHARMS, Daniil Ivanovich, translator. BUSCH, Wilhelm.

    Plikh i Pliukh [Plisch und Plum].

    Moscow, Detizdat, 1937.

    First edition in book form, very rare, of Daniil Kharms’s Russian free verse translation of the children’s story by Wilhelm Busch about two mischievous dogs, second only in fame to his Max und Moritz. The translation had been first published in the children’s magazine Chizh in 1936 (nos. 8-12),...


  19. KOLMAR, Gertrud, pseud. [i.e. Gertrud CHODZIESNER].

    Zwei Gedichte. [In:] Insel Almanach auf das Jahr 1930.

    Leipzig, Insel-Verlag, [1929].

    First edition: the inclusion of two poems by Kolmar, ‘Die Gauklerin’ and ‘Die Entführte’ (pp. 93–6), represent the first appearance in Germany of any part of her major cycle, Weibliches Bildnis. Two other poems from the cycle, ‘Die Fahrende’ and ‘Die Beterin’, had been published in...


  20. KUNZE, Reiner.

    Vögel über dem Tau. Liebesgedichte und Lieder.

    Halle, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1959.

    First edition of Kunze’s first independent publication, a collection of love poetry, with a long signed presentation inscription covering the half-title: ‘Liebe Edith, Lieber Johann, Und alles ist Anfang bei mir! Für die Kraft die ich aus unserer Freundschaft schöpfe, für die Kraft die diesen...