• <b>Sotheby’s London: Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection. Part I: Music. 26 October 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London Oct 26:</b> Beethoven, Ludwig van. Autograph Manuscript of the Canon "Ewig Dein" Woo 161, signed at the end ("...[Ewig] Dein...Freund Ludwig Van Beethowen"). Est. £120,000 to £150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London Oct 26:</b> Brahms, Johannes. Autograph Manuscript of the "Geistliches Wiegenlied", Op.91 No.2, for Contralto, Viola And Piano, the original version of 1864, signed and inscribed at the end by the composer. Est. £200,000 to £250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London Oct 26:</b> Chopin, Frédéric. Autograph Manuscript of the Opening of the Étude Op.25 No.2, in A-Flat Major, signed and dated ("Paris Ce 28 Avril F. Chopin"). Est. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection. Part I: Music. 26 October 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London Oct 26:</b> Haydn, Joseph. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jos Haydn[Paraph]"), to the Baden Choirmaster Anton Stoll, 30 July 1802. Est. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London Oct 26:</b> Verdi, Giuseppe. Autograph Working Manuscript of a scene from Ernani. Est. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London Oct 26:</b> Verdi, Giuseppe. Highly Important Series of Thirty-Six Autograph Letters Signed to The Librettist Salvadore Cammarano, written between 1844 And 1851, the greater part unpublished and unrecorded. Est. £250,000 to £300,000
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio!</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio!</b>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b><br><i>The Centenary Edition of the Works of Ian Fleming</i>, one of 26 lettered sets, 18 volumes, London, 2008. $25,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> William Faulkner, <i>The Marble Faun</i>, first edition, signed & inscribed to Dorothy Wilcox by Faulkner & Phil Stone, Boston, 1924. $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Maurice Sendak, <i>Where the Wild Things Are</i>, first edition, signed & inscribed to William Archibald, New York, 1963. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Anne Frank, <i>Het Achterhuis</i>, first edition, in first state jacket, Amsterdam, 1947. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Roald Dahl, <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</i>, first edition, signed, New York, 1964. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b><br>Ray Bradbury, <i>Fahrenheit 451</i>, first limited edition bound in Johns-Manville Quinterra, New York, 1953. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Benjamin Graham, <i>The Intelligent Investor</i>, first edition, in original dust jacket, New York, 1949. $4,500 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Anna Sewell, <i>Black Beauty</i>, first edition, inscribed, London, 1877. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Arthur Conan Doyle, <i>A Study in Scarlet</i>, first American edition, Philadelphia, 1890. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> James Fenimore Cooper, <i>The Last of the Mohicans</i>, first edition, two volumes, Philadelphia, 1826. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Amelia Earhart, <i>20 hrs. 40 mins. Our Flight in Friendship</i>, limited first edition, signed, New York, 1928. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> Philip K. Dick, <i>World of Chance</i>, first edition, signed, London, 1956. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Magnificent Botanical Library of D. F. Allen. October 26, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Oct. 26:</b> Redouté, Pierre Joseph, and Claude Antoine Thory. <i>Les Roses</I>. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1817–1824. Est. $225,000 to $325,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Oct. 26:</b> Trew, Jakob Christoph. <i>Hortus Nitidissimis Omnen Per Annum Superbiens Floribus</i>… Nuremberg: Johann Joseph Fleischmann, 1750 [–1786]. Est. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Oct. 26:</b> Trew, Christoph Jakob, and Benedict Christian Vogel. <i>Plantæ Selectæ</i>…[Nuremberg:] 1750–1773; Supplement, [Augsburg:] 1790 [–1792]. Est. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Magnificent Botanical Library of D. F. Allen. October 26, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Oct. 26:</b> Jacquin, Nikolaus Joseph von. <i>Plantarum Rariorum Horti Caesarei Schönbrunnensis Descriptiones Et Icones.</i>Vienna; London; Leiden, 1797–1804. Est. $180,000 to $250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Oct. 26:</b> Weinmann, Johann Wilhelm. <i>Phytanthoza Iconographia; Sive Conspectus Aliquot Millium, Tam Indigenarum Quam Exoticarum</i>… Regensburg, 1735–1737–1745. Est. $120,000 to $180,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2013 Issue

Erasmus & Gueudeville: Master and Translator

Erasmus01

In Praise of Folly, by Desiderius Erasmus, is a masterpiece of the Renaissance. When I read it for the first time, I felt like I was infected by a virus, turning page after page, restlessly giggling. Folly had had the better of me. Erasmus was a moralist who feared not to explore the darkness of Man. “This book,” says his French translator Gueudeville in the Preface of the 1745 edition (Amsterdam), “is a declaration of war on Man.” Call me a masochist if you please, I decided to find more about Erasmus. I had heard about his Colloquies, but not reading Latin – poor me ! - I was to look for a French edition. I got a hold of the 1720 edition (Leide) and found out it had been translated from Latin by the same Nicolas Gueudeville.

Starting to read it, I tried to convince myself for a while that I had the fun of my life. Erasmus depicts different characters of his time through short dialogues... full of wit and irony? Some are indeed. But I soon had to admit that this book was not matching my expectations. I was puzzled by the lack of fierceness of the author and grew quite suspicious towards the numerous engravings that illustrate the text. “Without any historical consideration,” as I later read in the forewords of Develay’s translation, “the artist took the liberty to dress Erasmus’ characters with 18th century’s clothes.” So far from Holbein’s drawings joined to In Praise of Folly! In fact, it resembles a pale imitation, and that was no better omen to me. I started to wonder, what was the input of Gueudeville in this work? Had he respected the original, or tried to spread his own message using the name of a respected author, as he once did with Le Baron de Lahontan? In a word, was Gueudeville trying to fool me just because I can’t read Latin? Damn, this is something I was not ready to accept, even from a long time dead man.

Translation has become a sacred art. It was not so in the early days when publishers and translators would openly cut off the “weak parts” of any book, just to make it “easier to read”. It was no big deal, they proudly mentioned it in their forewords – it was even used as a marketing tool. That’s probably why I was so quick at suspecting Mr. Gueudeville. I had so far respected him for being involved in many interesting projects, including his translations of In Praise of Folly and Utopia by Thomas More. I knew he had also written an exciting follow-up to the Voyages du Baron de Lahontan dans l’Amérique Septentrionale (1703). Mr. Lahontan was sent to Canada in the late 17th century where he clearly got fascinated by the local “Savages”. Some accused him of speaking his own mind when he had an Indian saying about the death of Christ : “God, in order to please God, made God die.” This inspired Gueudeville, who decided to write an imaginary dialogue between the Baron and an Indian, entitled Dialogue de M. le Baron de Lahontan et d’un sauvage de l’Amérique (1728). It enabled him to freely criticize the Catholic doctrine but also to become a precursor of the “myth of the good Savage” (as opposed to the corrupt man living in society) that would later make Jean-Jacques Rousseau famous. It took some time before people realized it was a hoax. Leibtniz himself, as reported, thought Lahontan was the true author of this dialogue.

I started to read a few biographies of Gueudeville. Obviously, he was no recommendable man. He was born in Rouen, France, in 1652, and he started to study religion before entering the Congregation of Saint-Maur aged 17. Though a brilliant student, he had to run away from the wrath of his superiors after uttering some heretical theories – aaaah, here we are ! He soon became a Latin teacher in Rotterdam, Holland, where he turned Calvinist. He eventually settled in Leyde where he started to earn a living by writing and translating books. Mr. Gueudeville was clearly not a wealthy man, the Dictionary of Mr. Feller even states that he “died out of misery.” To Mr. Feller, Gueudeville was just an up-to-no-good so-called writer, who had given “lengthy and dull” translations of In Praise of Folly and of Utopia (More). His style, he writes, “was emphatic, low, full of vulgar expressions, obscene – in a word, perfectly fitting the rabble.” It is true that Mr. Gueudeville was not afraid to use derogatory words such as “merdard”, and that Mr. Fauche, in his 1777 edition (Neuchatel) of In Praise of Folly, confessed that the original translation of Gueudeville was a little bit rude, and that he had tried to correct it as much as possible. Nevertheless, Mr. Feller was an Abbot, deeply and stubbornly opposed to Voltaire and the philosophers of his time. I guess it was a compliment to be insulted by such a man. But even Chaudon & Delandine despised Gueudeville in their Historical Dictionary – in fact, Feller’s article is almost stolen word for word from Chaudon’s (and this man was giving lessons of morality). As far as Gueudeville’s translation of Plaute’s Comedies is concerned, Chaudon writes: “The text is drowned under a flow of pestilence.” The man himself? “A villain, who, being tired of drinking wine, spent the last years of his life drinking strong liquor.” Jump from the frying pan and end up in the fire!

I’ve also learnt to be suspicious towards the established writers of the 18th century (including those who wrote dictionaries). They were experts in the art of flattering and usually chose their targets, sparing the powerful while harassing the weak. Gueudeville was guilty of being, first of all, a Protestant. Worst than that, a former Catholic who had betrayed his faith and his King – and not any King, but the great Louis XIV. He published, from 1699 onwards, the famous Esprit des Cours de l’Europe, a periodical Gazette. Chaudon laughs: “It was written by a man who had never seen the Cabinet of a Minister.” He knew enough to upset le Comte d’Avaux, anyway, who “had the publication suppressed because France was often offended by it.” (Chaudon).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Books & Manuscripts. 30 October 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Oct. 30:</b> MARCEL PROUST. Du côté de chez Swann. Grasset, 1913. First edition. One of 5 copies on Japan paper, inscribed by the author to Louis Brun. Est. €400,000 - 600,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Oct. 30:</b> Saint-Exupéry. <i>25 Autograph Illustrated Letters to his Friend Charles Sallès</i>. Est. €30,000-50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Oct. 30:</b> French Revolution, 1793. Déclaration des droits de l’Homme. 2,55 x 1,30m. A monumental wallpaper poster of the 1793 version, with hand-colored highlights. Unique copy. Est. €100,000 - 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Oct. 30:</b> GIAMBATTISTA PIRANESI. <i>Vedute di Roma</i>, 1748-1775. 107 etchings. An exceptional copy, printed and bound before 1780. Est. €50,000 - 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Oct. 30:</b> Picasso, Pablo -- Fernando de Rojas. LA CÉLESTINE. [PARIS, EDITIONS DE L'ATELIER CROMMELYNCK, 1971.] One of the 30 copies hors commerce (n° X). 66 original etchings by Picasso. Signed. Est. €30,000 - €35,000
  • <b>Results from Bonhams’ sale of <i>Fine Books & Manuscripts Featuring Exploration and Travel</i></b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Columbus. De Insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis. Basel, 1494. SOLD for $751,500
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Cook in Tahiti. [Playbill]. [Germany, c.1840.] SOLD for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Aa, Pieter van der. Naaukeurige versameling der gedenk-waardigste zee en land-reysen. Leyden, 1706-8. SOLD for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Dürer. Underweysung der messung [and two more]. Nuremberg, 1525-8. SOLD for $175,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Cortes, Hernan. A Pleito signed by Antonio de Mendoza in the case of Hernan Cortes. 1542. SOLD for $8750
    <b>Results from Bonhams’ <i>The Air and Space Sale</i></b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Russian Kholod 5D67 HFL Rocket Engine. SOLD for $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Neil Armstrong Apollo Era Training Glove. SOLD for $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Full Scale Sputnik-1 EMC/EMI Lab Model. SOLD for $847,500
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> SOLRAD GREB Spy Satellite Engineering Dummy. SOLD for $10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Soviet LK-3 Lunar Lander Model. SOLD for $25,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions