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. KUNZE, Reiner, and Egon GÜNTHER.

    Die Zukunft sitzt am Tische. 26 Gedichte.

    Halle, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, [1955].

    First edition of this collection of poems by two East German writers. It was the first published work of the poet Reiner Kunze. Born in 1933 into a mining family in Saxony, Kunze studied at Leipzig University where he later secured a job lecturing. Under the influence of contemporary Czech poets he came...


  3. 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.


  4. MEHRING, Walter.

    Und euch zum Trotz. Chansons Balladen und Legenden … Mit neun Zeichnungen und einem farbigen Umschlag vom Verfasser.

    Paris, Europäischer Merkur, [1934].

    First edition: the first publication in exile by one of the most important satirists of the Weimar Republic. With a presentation inscription on the half-title from Mehring to Viktor Achter (dated 1960), with a note that the book was ‘verbrannt in Deutschland’ and ‘verboten in Oesterreich’ in 1934.


  5. MÜLLER, Wilhelm.

    MÜLLER, Wilhelm. Lieder der Griechen. 1821. Dessau, Christian Georg Ackermann, [1821]. [with:]


    Dessau and Leipzig, c.1821-25.

    First edition of the complete Lieder der Griechen, together with the second enlarged edition of Part I. Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827) is better known today as the author of Die schöne Müllerin (1821) and Die Winterreise (1824), both set to music by Schubert, but his Songs of the Greeks, inspired by his...


  6. 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.


  7. PASTERNAK, Boris Leonidovich, translator.

    GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von. Tainy [Die Geheimnisse or The Mysteries].

    Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Sovremennik, 1922.

    First and only edition, very rare, of Pasternak’s early translation of Goethe’s epic fragment Die Geheimnisse (The Mysteries); with a long introductory note by Professor Grigorii Rachinskii.


  8. RILKE, Rainer Maria.

    Die Sonette an Orpheus. Geschrieben als ein Grab-Mal für Wera Ouckama Knoop.

    Leipzig, Insel Verlag, 1923.

    First edition, one of 300 numbered copies of the Vorzugsausgabe, printed on thick paper, in the original half morocco binding variant.


  9. RILKE, Rainer Maria.

    Les Fenêtres. Dix poèmes de Rainer Maria Rilke illustrés de dix eaux-fortes par Baladine.

    Paris, Officina Sanctandreana, 1927.

    First edition, one of 500 copies on pur fil, of a total edition of 515. A series of ten poems in French addressed by Rilke to his lover ‘Mouky’ or ‘Baladine’ Klossowska, who herself provided the illustrations. Elisabeth Dorothea Klossowska née Spiro (1886-1969) met Rilke in 1919, and became...


  10. RÜCKERT, Friedrich.

    Die Weisheit des Brahmanen, ein Lehrgedicht in Bruchstücken. Erstes [- Sechstes] Bändchen.

    Leipzig, Weidmann’sche Buchhandlung, 1836-39.

    First edition of one of the most important poetical works by Rückert, here in the publisher’s attractive original paper wrappers. Rückert’s large output of poetry inspired many composers, among them Schubert (‘Du bist die Ruh’), Schumann (‘Widmung’), and Mahler (‘Kindertotenlieder’...


  11. SCHILLER, Friedrich.

    Gedichte. Erster [-Zweyter] Theil.

    Leipzig, Siegfried Lebrecht Crusius, 1800-1803.

    First authorised edition of Schiller’s poems, following an unauthorised edition of volume 1 only which appeared earlier in 1800. Previously the poems had appeared only in almanacs and periodicals. This edition contains the first appearance in print of 10 poems. An attractive copy in contemporary red...


  12. [SCHILLER, Friedrich von.]

    Friedrich von Schiller’s Bibliothek. Mit einem Facsimile aus seinem eigenhändigen Bücherverzeichnisse....

    Berlin, J. A. Stargardt, [1859].

    One of a very few surviving copies of this booksellers’ catalogue of part of Schiller’s library. The engraved folding plate is a facsimile of a manuscript list of the books in Schiller’s hand.


  13. SCHILLER, Johann Christoph Friedrich von (Editor).

    Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1800.

    Tübingen, J. G. Cotta, [1799].

    First edition, rare: Schiller’s last Musen-Almanach, containing the first appearance of poems by Schiller (‘Spruch des Konfucius’, ‘Das Lied von der Glocke’), Gries, Herder, Knebel, Matthisson, and others.


  14. SCHUBERT, Franz, composer.

    A fine contemporary volume of ten works containing 18 Lieder including his most famous early songs ‘Erlkönig’...

    Vienna, 1821-1833

    A rare collection of Schubert Lieder in a contemporary binding, apparently as retailed by the Czech music publisher Berra, including three first editions.


  15. [SCHWARZ, Sophie Becker, and Elisa, Gräfin von der RECKE.]

    Elisens und Sophiens Gedichte. Herausgegeben von I[ohann] L[udwig] Schwartz.

    Berlin, Friedrich Vieweg, 1790

    First and only edition of this anthology of poems by Elisa von der Recke and Sophie Schwarz. It was the first appearance in print of Sophie Schwarz’s poems, published by her husband shortly after her death in 1789 at the age of 35, following the birth of their first child, and was intended as a memorial...


  16. SHAGINIAN, Marietta Sergeevna.

    Gëte [Goethe].

    Moscow and Leningrad, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1950.

    First edition. Goethe was Shaginian’s idol, as attested by Puteshestvie v Veimar (Journey to Weimar). Here she presents a scholarly work on the great German writer, which particularly examines Russian (and Soviet) appreciations.


  17. STORM, Theodor.

    Waldwinkel. Pole Poppenspäler. Novellen …

    Brunswick, George Westermann, 1875.

    First edition in book form. Nearly all Storm’s novellas from the mid-1860s onwards were first published in monthly and quarterly magazines before appearing in book form. Both stories included here first came out in 1874, Waldwinkel in the exclusive Deutsche Rundschau, Pole Poppenspäler in the new...



    Lenore. Vaterländisches Schauspiel mit Gesang in drei Abtheilungen.

    Berlin, Duncker and Humblot, 1829.

    First edition of one of Holtei’s best-known plays, inspired by a ballad by Gottfried Bürger.