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. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    Momus [or De principe].

    Rome, Jacopo Mazochi, 1520.

    First edition of this political and social satire by the great Renaissance architect, theorist, scholar and man of letters, Leon Battista Alberti. There were two editions published in Rome in 1520, one (the present) by Jacopo Mazochi, the other by Étienne Guillery. Both carry papal privileges,...


  2. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    Hecatomphila che ne insegnia l’ingeniosa arte d’amore. Deiphira che ne mostra suggir il mal principiato...

    Venice, Giovanni Antonio et Fratelli da Sabbio ad instantia de Nicolo & Francesco Librari al Dolphin, 1528.

    A combined edition of the Ecatomfila and the Deifira, Alberti’s two dialogues on love. They originally appeared separately in 1471, probably the first works of literature by a living author printed in Italian. They treat the vagaries of love from different perspectives. In the Ecatomfila,...


  3. 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 pp. Exposición by the Toledo ascetic writer and scholar Alejo Venegas (1495?–1554?).


  4. 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.


  5. ROSA, Salvator.

    Satire, dedicate a Settano.

    “In Amsterdam, Presso Severo Prothomastix” [Rome, c. 1690].

    The literary triumph of the great Baroque painter. This is the true first edition, not to be confused with the reprints and counterfeits. No.1 in Uberto Limentani, Bibliographia della vita e delle opere di Salvator Rosa (Florence, 1995).


  6. [THEATRE].

    La locanda commedia da rappresentarsi in Firenze nel Teatro di Via del Cocomero nell’autunno dell’anno 1756.

    Florence, Pietro Gaetano Viviani, 1756.

    Sole edition, extremely rare (no other copy listed in library catalogues), of this three-act comedy, a notable example of the new Italian comedy inspired by Goldoni. This work appears to echo Goldoni’s La vedova scaltra (1748), while developing the plot and the theme along original trajectories....


  7. [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...


  8. MANZONI, Alessandro.

    In morte di Carlo Imbonati. Versi di Alessandro Manzoni a Giulia Beccaria sua madre.

    Milan, Coi Tipi di Gio. Giuseppe Destefanis, 1806.

    First trade edition of Manzoni’s first published work; it was first published in Paris by Didot earlier in 1806 in an edition of 100 copies; another edition of 15 pages was published in Brescia the same year. The edition is dedicated to Vincenzo Monti by the editor, Giambattista Pagani.


  9. FOSCOLO, Ugo.

    Lezioni de Eloquenza.

    Venice, Tip. di Commercio, 1830.

    First separate edition of Foscolo’s Pavia lectures, originally published in his Alcuni scritti e dettati inediti, Piacenza 1825.


  10. LEOPARDI, Giacomo.

    Paralipomeni della Batracomiomachia.

    Paris, Libreria Europea di Baudry, 1842.

    First edition, published posthumously in Paris, of Leopardi’s comic-heroic satire in ottava rima on contemporary Italian politics. Leopardi first translated the Batracomiomachia in 1815, when he published it together which his ‘Discorso sopra la Batracomiomachia’, in which he argues against the...


  11. [CARDUCCI, Giosuè, Emilio TEZA, and Francesco BONATELLI.]

    Per le nozze di Giambattista Gandino con Olimpia Orsi. Marzo MDCCCLXIV.

    [Bologna, Tipi Fava e Garagnani al Progresso], 1864.

    A rare collection of three poems presented to Carducci’s close friend Giambattista Gandino, a teacher at the University of Bologna, on the occasion of his marriage. Carducci contributes the long poem ‘Idillio. Coro di giovani – Coro di fanciulle’ which appears here for the first time, and was...


  12. 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’,...


  13. VERGA, Giovanni.

    Cavalleria Rusticana. Scene popolari. [Con disegni di Edoardo Calandra].

    Turin, F. Casanova, 1884.

    First edition. This is the source for Pietro Mascagni’s opera of the same name.


  14. D'ANNUNZIO, Gabriele.

    La Figlia di Iorio. Tragedia pastorale.

    Milan, Treves, 1904.

    First edition of this verse drama, widely considered to be D’Annunzio’s finest work for the theatre. A drama of peasant life, it is based on an experience D'Annunzio and his painter friend, Michetti, had had years before in the small Abruzzi village of Tocco Casauria. In the piazza they witnessed...


  15. [MALAPARTE, Curzio, pseud.] SUCHERT, Kurt Erich.

    Le nozze degli eunuchi.

    Rome, Casa Editrice Rassegna Internazionale, [1921].

    Very rare first edition of this early collection of essays by the Tuscan political activist, journalist and essayist Curzio Malaparte (1898-1957), ‘one of Italy’s most charming and contradictory figures. Malaparte espoused various radical (and diametrically opposed) philosophical and political doctrines...


  16. BERTOLUCCI, Attilio.


    Parma, Alessandro Minardi, 1929.

    Very rare first edition of Bertolucci’s first collection of poetry, a volume of 27 poems set in his native region of Parma, published when he was just 18 in an edition of only 200 copies (ours is no. 64).


  17. SILONE, Ignazio.

    Fontamara, Roman.

    Zurich, Oprecht, 1933.

    The true first edition of Fontamara, Silone’s first book, published in German translation in Switzerland where Silone was in exile until 1945. The novel enjoyed remarkable popularity abroad, while being totally ignored in Italy. The Italian original was first published in Paris five months later by...


  18. SILONE, Ignazio.

    Brot und Wein, Roman.

    Zurich, Oprecht, 1936.

    First edition of Silone’s Pane e vino, published in German translation in Switzerland where Silone was in exile. The first edition in Italian was published in Switzerland in 1937 (see next item), and the first edition printed in Italy in 1955.


  19. [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.


  20. PRATOLINI, Vasco.

    Le ragazze di Sanfrediano.

    Florence, Vallecchi, 1952.

    First edition in book form of The Girls of San Frediano, Pratolini’s semi-comic novel set in his native quarter of Florence, which was first published in the journal Botteghe Oscure in 1949. It was filmed by Valerio Zurlini in 1955.