(London: Published by David Nutt, 1900). 210 x 152 mm. (8 1/4 x 6"). Three volumes. Translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart and Peter Le Motteux. Introduction by Charles Whibley.
VERY ATTRACTIVE BROWN CRUSHED HALF MOROCCO BY BICKERS & SON (stamp-signed on verso of front endpaper), smooth russet linen boards, spines gilt in ruled compartments, raised bands decorated with double rules and small tool at either end, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Publisher's original buckram covers bound in at rear. Decorated title page, initials, printer's device on verso of last leaf. Title pages printed in red and black; pastedowns with bookplate of Sir James Dunn. A couple of tiny scratches to leather on lower cover of volume I, a hint of soiling to lower board of volume II, just a touch of rubbing to bottom edges and corners, a couple of tiny blemishes internally, but these faults all very minor, and the set in excellent condition overall.
This is a pleasing edition of the first English translations of Rabelais' masterpiece, originally published in two parts by two different translators, nearly 40 years apart. Britain had to wait a century from the time of Rabelais' death until Sir Thomas Urquhart (or Urchard, 1611-60) published in 1653 a translation of the first two books of Rabelais' oeuvre, comprising "Gargantua" and the first episodes of "Pantagruel." Four decades more passed until, in 1693, Urquhart's version of the third book, continuing the adventures of Pantagruel and Panurge, appeared in print (although the translation itself had been completed much earlier). The English Rabelais was at last completed in 1694 with publication by Peter Le Motteux of the final two books, containing further escapades of Pantagruel and Panurge, as well as the "Pantagruelian Prognostication" and 16 letters of Rabelais. Urquhart, an eccentric Scotsman whose home was the castle of Cromarty, possessed the requisite passionate and saucy temperament to translate Rabelais, and this translation is considered his best work. Our editor Whibley says that "to turn from Urquhart to Motteux is to travel at a page from the old world to the new, to exchange the fastness of Cromarty for the tobacco and the spilt wine of the tavern." Peter Le Motteux (1660-1718) was born in Rouen but migrated in 1685 to England because of the persecution of French Protestants. Although best known today for his translations of Rabelais and Cervantes, Motteux was a person with manifold interests and occupations, importing goods from India and China, composing plays and operas, and holding a position in the post office. His racy translation of Rabelais is equal in verve to that of Urquhart, if less quaint. (ST15557-18)
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PJP Catalog: RCVF20.054