Camoens: His Life and His Lusiads. A Commentary

Richard F. BURTON   |   Luis Vaz de CAMOENS

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"TO MY GOOD FRIEND, NICHOLAS TRÜBNER," FIRST ISSUE OF RICHARD BURTON'S COMMENTARY AND BIOGRAPHY OF PORTUGUESE POET LUIS VAZ DE CAMOENS, INSCRIBED BY BURTON IN ENGLISH AND ARABIC TO A NOTED ORIENTALIST AND PUBLISHER

BURTON, Richard F. CAMOENS, Luis Vaz de. Camoens: His Life and His Lusiads. A Commentary. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1881. Two volumes. Small octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth, top edges gilt. Early custom green half-morocco slipcase with chemises. $4000.

Presentation association first edition, first issue (in green cloth), inscribed in the first volume, to a noted orientalist and publisher: "To my good friend, Nicholas Trübner, [signed by Burton in Arabic characters]."

Nicholas Trübner, born in 1817, "the eldest of four sons of a Heidelberg goldsmith… early showed an eager taste for study, and his parents, being unable to afford him a university training, placed him in 1831 in the shop of Mohr, the Heidelberg bookseller…. Six years' hard work there brought him into contact with many learned men, and successive employment…. At Frankfurt, William Longman… was struck with young Trübner's ability, and offered him the post of foreign corresponding clerk…. At Longman's [in London] he soon learnt the English language and book trade, and prepared himself for the position of a leading publisher…. After publishing in 1855 his model 'Bibliographical Guide to American Literature'… Trübner visited the United States and formed permanent connections with leading American writers and publishers…. His deepest interest was in philology, philosophy, religions, and, most of all, oriental studies…. His success in gathering round him a band of distinguished scholars, and publishing learned works which other publishers would scarcely have risked, soon made his name a household word wherever oriental scholarship is known…. Many a struggling scholar owed his final success to Trübner's practical help and steady encouragement. His services to learning were recognised by foreign rulers, who bestowed on him the orders of the crown of Prussia, Ernestine Branch of Saxony, Francis Joseph of Austria, St. Olaf of Norway, the Lion of Zähringen, and the White Elephant of Siam" (DNB). Upon Trübner's death Burton wrote "We first became acquainted in 1852 when he was studying 'bibliopolism' at Messrs. Longmans'; and he ever proved himself an active and cordial friend… [H]is London house… became a 'focus of American and Oriental literature,' and his agencies ramified over either hemisphere. He has left many friends to deplore his death. S.T.T.L.! [Sit Tibi Terra Levis, i.e. May the Earth Rest Lightly Upon You]" (The Academy, May 17, 1884).

First published in 1572, The Lusiads describes Vasco da Gama's 1498 discovery of the sea route around Africa to India, the very same route Camoens would take in 1553, when he was sent to India as a soldier. "Burton was attracted to Camoens as the mouthpiece of the romantic period of discovery in the Indian Ocean. The voyages, the misfortunes, the chivalry, the patriotism of the poet were to him those of a brother adventurer. In his spirited sketch of the life and character of Camoens it is not presumptuous to read between the lines allusions to his own career… Burton's aim was to present to modern English readers as much as might be of the influence that Camoens has exercised for three centuries upon the Portuguese" (DNB). "These two volumes form Vols. III and IV of the [six volume] series, and are numbered as such on the back of the cover [i.e., the spines]" (Penzer, 104); they stand on their own independently of the other four volumes and are complete in themselves. While operating undercover as a Pathan doctor, "the name that [Burton] took was Al-Haj (the pilgrim) Abdullah, as he used ever afterwards to sign himself in Arabic characters," as here (DNB). Penzer, 104.

Text clean and bright, inner hinges expertly reinforced, original cloth near-fine with only minor rubbing, gilt quite bright. A rare and significant inscribed presentation association copy.

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