NORDEN, Frederik-Ludvig.

NORDEN, Frederik-Ludvig. Voyage d\\\\\\\'Égypte et de Nubie

Paris, Lepetit Jeune, 1800.


12mo. 3 vols in one. pp. [3] 159 [1], [3] 2-192, [2] 6-205 [1]. Roman letter.  1 full page and 22 double page engraved plates by Tardieu L’Ainé, double foldout map of the Nile following the author’s journey from Alexandria to Derri, with topographical detail. Title page strengthened at gutter, small, silked repair to first leaf of text, light age browning, a few stains, occasional foxing, plates in excellent impression. A good, wide-margined copy, in slightly later mottled calf, spine gilt.

This pocket-sized second edition ‘dans un format agréable et commode’ (vol 3, p.203) contains a magnificently detailed journalistic record of 18th C. Danish explorer Frederik-Ludvig Norden’s (1708- 1742) expedition through Egypt and Nubia, from 7th of July 1737 until the 24th of February 1738. It features in depth descriptions of the cities of Alexandria and Cairo, including the pyramids of Giza. The reader accompanies the adventurer through Egypt and Sudan, and due to its small size could consult this edition as a guidebook on his own journey through the Near East.   

During his trip, Norden made copious notes and drawings of the monuments and sites, first published in Danish in Copenhagen in 1755. It was the first comprehensive attempt to document the ancient monuments of Egypt. This French translation features 23 plates of the original work, including engraved views of Alexandria, Cairo and the Pyramids, Luxor, Philae and the temple of Khnum at Esnah. The latter is particularly striking as the site appears half-covered in sand, differing greatly from the completely excavated site visible today. Norden also records how his drawings from Luxor, completed by night, were nearly lost, and returned to him by chance.  These illustrations not only provide visual accompaniment to the thrilling first-hand narrative but are fascinating features in it. Of his first visit to Luxor, Norden writes ‘Je dessinai ces antiquités magnifiques de toutes les façons que je pus le faire et comme elles s’offraient a mes yeux.’

Volume I focusses on the journey from Alexandria to Cairo and features in depth descriptions of these two cities, their ancient monuments, culture, and people. He digresses wonderfully on the tomb of Alexander, which although undiscovered, still inspires the modern imagination. Being detained in Cairo for 3 months by way of illness and local revolution, Norden advances down the Nile to Aswan in Volume II, noting local villages and their ancient monuments. He finally describes his arrival and stay in Deir in Volume III, before returning north, completing sketches, which he was unable to accomplish on the journey south. A fascinating insight into the geography, nature, history, and culture of Egypt.

ESTC T6299. Brunet 101.
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