DOUVILLE'S CONGO, 1832, WITH THE SCARCE ATLAS CONTAINING 20 PLATES AND LARGE MAP OF THE REGION
(AFRICA) DOUVILLE, Jean-Baptiste. Voyage au Congo et dans l’Intérieur de l’Afrique Équinoxiale, Fait dans les Années 1828, 1829 et 1830. Paris: Jules Renouard, 1832. Three volumes and Atlas. Octavo, original pale blue printed wrappers, uncut and unopened; Atlas, slim folio (11-1/2 by 15 inches), original wrappers rebacked. Housed in custom paper-covered slipcase and clamshell box. $8500.
First edition of this early description of the Congo and the far interior of Angola, with the rare Atlas containing an engraved title page, list of plates, 20 full-page lithographs of inhabitants and their way of life, and a large engraved folding map of the African interior by Brué.
Douville (1794-1837) excited first wild enthusiasm and then widespread skepticism upon publication of his Voyage au Congo in 1832, an account of his explorations into the very heart of Africa. Although the work came under attack for fabrication, Douville maintained the authenticity of his account, and even Sir Richard Burton maintained that the Frenchman's descriptions of the Congo were lifelike; that his observations on the anthropology, ceremonies, customs and maladies of the people were remarkably accurate; and that the native words used in his narrative were "for the most part given with unusual correctness." "Douville continues to intrigue historians, not only because of the romantic and mysterious quality of the French traveler's life, but because his book— if authentic— contains valuable information about the far interior of Angola at a period when few other sources allow more than occasional glimpses of the history and culture of the people who lived there. Douville's credibility has recently received renewed support [by way of] verifying the accuracy of his data on the climate, geography, politics, and society, [noting] that many names appear in print for the first time in Douville and only later make their entry into the accounts of other travelers" (Joseph C. Miller). The scholarly consensus is that the chief source for Douville's work was likely a group of unpublished Portuguese manuscripts to which he had ready access. The accompanying Atlas contains a large map by Adrien Hubert Brué. Between 1810-30, Brué was perhaps the most important practitioner of French cartography. His travels took him to the West African coast and South Asia and he was a member of the Société de Géographie de Paris and of the Royal Geographical Society in London. Brué held the office of Géographe du Roi and often signed his maps accordingly. His maps are characterized by precise accuracy, clarity of line and beautiful detail. Brué map laid into the Atlas. Text in French. Howgego D27.
Slight soiling to exteriors, small wormhole to last gathering of Volume III (not affecting text). A nearly fine unopened copy in original wrappers.