Medicine, Voyages, Sciences, and Literature from Librairie Clavreuil

- by Michael Stillman

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Medicine, Voyages, Sciences, and Literature from Librairie Clavreuil

Librairie Clavreuil of Paris has published their summer catalogue, Catalogue Eté 2021. Médecine, Voyages, Sciences, Littérature. The catalogue is written primarily in French. Still, no English speakers will have any trouble understanding the four subjects listed in the title which the catalogue focuses upon. The books are also primarily, but not exclusively, written in French. While some are original French works, others are French translations of works written in another language, most often English. Consequently, we see numerous authors whose works originated elsewhere appearing in this catalogue of French books. Here are a few selections.

 

We begin with one from the category of voyages. France is not often noted for early seagoing explorations. Those were generally dominated by other European powers – England, Spain, and Portugal. However, they were not without their own expeditions, and here is one of those, the earliest French circumnavigation of the globe. King Louis XV was unhappy at the lack of French achievements in the field so he commissioned Louis Antoine de Bougainville to undertake a voyage. Bougainville brought the first settlement to the Falkland Islands, though France later ceded them to Spain, and then visited various islands in the Pacific. Most notable among these was Tahiti. While Bougainville's discoveries were not extensive, he did bring back much information, and it was his mission that led to the belief in island paradises far off in the Pacific. Tahiti was the ultimate paradise, and Bougainville's descriptions led to the idea soon popular in Europe of the “noble savage.” Britain ended up bringing a few of them home with them. Item 9 is Voyage autour du Monde...en 1766, 1767, 1768 & 1769, a first edition published in 1771. Priced at 3,500 € (euros, or approximately $4,093 in U.S. dollars).

 

This is a much earlier French journey, though not a voyage. This man visited many of the interesting locations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, Italy, Cypress, Greece, Turkey, Syria, the Holy Land, and Egypt. The traveller was Jacques de Villamont, a Frenchman, his book Les voyages du seigneur de Villamont, chevalier de l'Ordre de Hierusalem, gentil-homme du pays Bretaigne. This is a third edition, published in 1598, three years after the first. This was a contentious time in France, battles between Catholics and Protestants occurring and he was having some troubles in his home province. Though a Catholic, Villamont played a neutral role, writing about his journey and staying away from religion and politics. The result was a very popular book, running through 18 editions in 20 years. Villamont recounts his own experiences while borrowing additional material from others. Book I covers his journey from his home in Brittany to Venice, Book II Greece to Jerusalem, and Book III Syria and Egypt. Item 63. 2,500 € (US $2,924).

 

This next one is for the mathematicians, Nouveaux élémens de géométrie, by Blaise Pascal and Antoine Arnauld, published in 1667. I won't attempt to explain these new discoveries because these geometry theorems are above my head. This is not high school geometry, as far as I advanced. Pascal was known as a brilliant mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and less well-known, theologian. He was part of the Port Royal group in 17th century France, whose religious views did not always win the day in the Catholic church. For all his brilliance, Pascal was not blessed with good health and died in 1662 at the age of 39. His partner here was Antoine Arnauld, a priest and fellow Port Royaler who was a good friend of Pascal. Arnauld was also skilled in mathematics, but his target was more often theology, and he engaged in numerous theological disputes during his much longer lifetime. He was not the easiest person with which to get along. He was still around to publish this book created with the late Blaise Pascal. Item 2. 5,000 € (US $5,848).

 

Next we have a book pertaining to a part of America, Etat-present de la Louisiane, avec toutes les particularités de cette province d’Amerique, Pour service de Suite à l’Histoire des Etablissemens des Européens dans les Deux Indes (present state of Louisiana, with all the peculiarities of this province of America, for further service to the history of European settlements in the two Indies). This is not a general look at the Louisiana Territory but rather an account of a particular event, from the point of view of French residents of New Orleans. The events date to 1768. After the French defeat in the French and Indian War, they were forced to cede Louisiana to Spain. When the Spanish Governor closed the mouth of the Mississippi to prevent smuggling, French residents rebelled. The Spanish showed little sympathy, putting the rebellion down with brutal force. Jean de Champigny writes of the repression to tell the world what terrible things had been done to the French people. This is a second edition, published in 1776, three years after the first. Item 14. 3,500 € (US $4,092).

 

The title of this book is L'Hindoustan, ou religion, moeurs, usages, arts et metiers des Hindous (Hindustan, or religion, manners, customs, arts and crafts of the Hindus). Published in 1816, it is by Jean-Amable Pannelier, though based on a manuscript by Marquis Renouard de Sainte-Croix. Sainte-Croix was a French officer who travelled to the East. This book provides information about Hindustan (India) at the turn of the 19th century and contains 104 plates of illustrations. Published in six volumes. Item 51. 2,500 € (US $2,924).

 

Librairie Clavreuil may be reached at +33 (0)1 43 26 97 69 or basane@librairieclavreuil.com.