THEVET, Andre Historia dell'India America detta altramente Francia antartica, di M. Andrea Tevet tradotta di francese in lingua iataliana, da M. Giuseppe Horologgi

Venice, Gabriel Giolito de'Ferrari, 1561


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp (xxxii) 363 (iii). (lacking last blank) Italic letter. Woodcut device on title, head of title with woodcut ornament, larger device on recto of last leaf, charming historiated woodcut initials, headpieces and ornaments, “FF. 300 de Giovanni Romani da Casalmaggiore an 1780” on fly “De Capuccin di Casalmaggiore” in slightly earlier hand, in lower blank margin of title. Age yellowing, some browning to a few leaves, minor marginal foxing in places, minor occasional marginal water-stains, the odd marginal ink stain and thumb mark. A good copy, in contemporary vellum over boards, manuscript title on spine, small slit to vellum on spine.

First edition of the Italian translation by Giuseppe Horologgi of Les Singularitez de la France Antarctique, first published at Paris in 1557, a most important first hand account of Thevet’s journey to Brazil. Thevet, a Franciscan, accompanied Villegagnon on a French expedition in 1555 to establish a colony on the coast of Brazil. This important narrative of that unsuccessful venture contains one of the earliest descriptions of tobacco and its use by the Indians, as well as descriptions of Peru, Cuba, and Canada, the latter account derived from Jacques Cartier. Giolito reissued this translation in 1584. An English translation appeared in 1568. Thevet’s first travels occurred in about 1550, when he accompanied the Cardinal Jean de Lorraine on a journey into Italy and the Mediterranean basin. His experience as a traveler attracted the attention of Nicolas Durand, Chevalier de Villegagnon, who was preparing to found a colony in what is today Brazil. He asked Thevet to accompany the expedition as its confessor. Thevet fell ill during the voyage and had to return to France after only ten weeks in Brazil. Using his own observations, however, combined with information gained from other travellers, Thevet quickly produced his ‘Singularitez de la France Antarctique’ on his return.

Thevet writes here in detail of that attempt to form a colony, and includes vivid descriptions of the manners and customs of the natives whom he met. It seems probable, however, that his accounts of North America, which form a large portion of this book, and which he claims are based on first hand knowledge, derived mainly from conversations with Jacques Cartier, Sebastian Cabot, and the Sieur de Roberval. Nevertheless he gives one of the earliest descriptions of Canada, one of the earliest accounts of Newfoundland and Labrador, and one of the earliest discussions of the customs and ceremonies of the Indians, including a marvellous description of tobacco-smoking (p. 333). André Thevet traveled extensively and wrote prolifically. Few sixteenth-century writers covered more territory or wrote more ambitiously. While today Thevet is seen largely as a compiler and editor of experiences that belonged to others, his work on Brazil remains important to those studying the first encounters with the New World. A good, unsophisticated copy of this important work.

BM STC It C16th p. 668. Sabin 95336. Brunet V: 814: "Cette traduction ne se trouve pas facilement". Church 112. Borba de Moraes II, p. 858. Alden 561/52. Arents 9. Mcgill 833 (Fr. edn.) Lande 833.
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