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. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    El Momo. La moral e muy graciosa historia del Momo; compuesta en Latin por el docto varon Leon Bapista...

    Alcalá de Henares, Joan Mey Flandro, 1553.

    First edition in Spanish of Alberti’s Momus [or De principe], translated by Augustín de Almaçan and with an introductory 8-page Exposición by the Toledo ascetic writer and scholar Alejo Venegas (1495?–1554?).

    £3800

  2. BARTOLI, Adolfo.

    Scenari inediti della Commedia dell’arte. Contributo alla storia del teatro popolare italiano.

    Florence, Sansoni, 1880.

    Rare first edition, one of only 350 copies, of a foundational source for the study of Commedia dell’Arte. The exceptionally well-loved and widely-performed form of drama is the subject of the author’s pioneering study: he examines tropes, characters, plots, structures and lines of ‘scenarios’...

    £500

  3. FAGNANI, Giovanni Marco. 

    De bello Arriano libri sex. 

    Milan, heirs of Pacifico da Ponte and Giovanni Battista Piccaglia, 1604. 

    First and only edition of the sole published work by the Italian nobleman Giovanni Marco Fagnani (1524–1609), an epic poem recounting Ambrose of Milan’s campaign against local Arians in late fourth-century Lombardy. 

    £900

  4. [FRANCE and ITALY.]

    A collection of manuscript and printed material pertaining to French territorial ambitions in Italy.

    [1537 – c. 1630].

    A collection of memoranda concerning French ambitions in the Italian peninsula during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

    £750

  5. GONZAGA, Curzio.

    Il Fido amante, poema eroico.

    Mantua, [(colophon:) Giacomo Ruffinello, 1582].

    First edition of an Italian Renaissance heroic poem in thirty-six cantos, much appreciated by Tasso and published the year after the first authorized edition of the Gerusalemme liberata.

    £600

  6. GRAY, [Thomas].

    Poems by Mr. Gray.

    Dublin, William Sleater, 1775.

    An attractive Dublin edition of Gray’s poems, joined by two parodies and a ‘burlesque ode’, and parallel translations of his Elegy written in a Country Churchyard into Italian and Latin.

    £125

  7. GUERINI, Professor Giovanni.

    Fireside Entertainments; or, A Series of Interesting Tales ...

    London: Chapman and Hall ... 1874.

    First edition in English of Guerini’s Trenta Novelle (1873), a collection of short stories with contemporary or historical Italian settings by Bulwer-Lytton’s Italian translator. In the original language these stories--’Rubens’ Studio’, ‘The Uncle from America’, ‘Shut up in Church’,...

    £150

  8. [MALTA.] 

    Eruditissima istoria dell’assedio fatto dalli Turchi all città di Malta. 

    Naples, [c. 1800?]. 

    Scarce poem on the 1565 Great Siege of Malta, when around 2400 Knights Hospitallers and Maltese inhabitants repelled an Ottoman invasion lead by Dragut and Mustafa Pasha.  Library catalogues credit the work to Innico Grivaccio. 

    £650

  9. MARINO, Giambattista.

    La Murtoleide fischiate del cavalier Marino con la Marineide risate del Murtola.

    ‘Norinbergh’ [i.e. Venice], Ioseph Stamphier, 1619.

    Rare first edition of the manifesto of Italian Baroque poetry, appearing in the bitterly satirical ‘literary feud’ between the leading Italian baroque poet Giambattista Marino and his adversary, Gasparo Murtola. Marino, who thrived in his notoriously misbehaving public persona, had been banned...

    £900

  10. [NAPOLEONIC ITALY.] 

    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.

    £575

  11. 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...

    £350

  12. [PIRANDELLO, Luigi.]

    LO VECCHIO MUSTI, Manlio. Bibliografia di Pirandello.

    Verona, Mondadori, 1937.

    First edition of this authoritative bibliography of Pirandello, published just a year after his death. It includes a long introductory essay by Massimo Bontempelli.

    £100

  13. PIUS II (Nicolaus von WYLE, editor).

    Epistolae familiares.

    Nuremberg, Anton Koberger, 17 July 1486.

    Second Koberger edition of the Epistolae familiares of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (1405–1464), the great Renaissance humanist who became Pope Pius II in 1458, a handsome copy enhanced with manuscript additions comprising epistolary models, a German-Latin wordlist, and German medical recipes.

    £9500

  14. RIDOLFI, Luca Antonio. 

    Aretefila, dialogo, nel quale da una parte sono quelle ragioni allegate, le quali affermano, lo amore...

    Lyons, Guillaume Rouillé, 1562. 

    Annotated copy, once owned by a music book collector, of the third edition (first 1557) of a remarkable Renaissance philosophical dialogue on the nature of love which marked the culmination of the very divisive ‘questione d’amore’ hotly debated in sixteenth-century literature. 

    £2800

  15. STRAPAROLA, Giovanfrancesco.

    Le piacevoli notti di messer Giovanfrancesco Straparola da Caravaggio.

    Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1558.

    An early edition of both volumes of Straparola’s Facetious nights, first published in 1550–53.

    £2750

  16. [TRENTO, Giulio].

    Gli spiriti. Paragoni poetici. Dialogo d’un giovine, ed un cinico dell’andare alla Guerra. Diario mensuale...

    Treviso, G. Trento, [1788].

    Only edition, mentioned only in one or two pieces of local antiquarian history but not recorded in any of the usual library catalogues. An ephemeral publication containing a short story, a literary divertissement linking passages from Parini’s Mattino with an unidentified poem on gambling and an ode...

    £300

  17. URCEO, Antonio [or Codro].

    Hoc Codri volumine haec continentur. Orationes, seu sermones ut ipse appellabat. Epistolae. Silvae....

    Bologna, Giovanni Antonio Benedetti, 7 March 1502.

    First edition of a quintessential piece of Italian humanism, annotated by a sixteenth-century reader particularly interested in the philology of the texts.

    £3000

  18. [WEDDING POETRY.]

    Applausi alli felicissimi sponsali dell’illustrissimo Sig. Cavaliere Deifebo Perini Brancadori, con l’illustrissima...

    Siena, Stamperia del Pubblico, 1699.

    Seemingly unrecorded collection of sonnets written to mark the marriage of two Sienese nobles, Deifebo Perini Brancadori and Ottavia Orlandini. The fourteen sonnets, whose authorship remains unknown, take inspiration from the family name of the groom and aspects of the arms of both families, with...

    £350