Les Voyages Avantageux. Ferdinand / tr. FIGUIER MENDES PINTO, Bernard.
Les Voyages Avantageux ...
FIRST FRENCH EDITION OF THE TRAVELS OF MENDES PINTO
ADVENTURER, MERCHANT, MISSIONARY, PIRATE
A CLASSIC OF TRAVEL LITERATURE
FROM THE RED SEA TO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA & JAPAN
JAPAN.
Paris, 1628.

Les Voyages Avantageux.

4to. [21 x 14.5 cm], (8) ff., 1193, (1) pp., (7) ff., including title printed in red and black. Bound in contemporary French calf, spine in 6 compartments richly gilt, morocco title label. Upper margin of title shaved, brushing the tops of a few letters. Some mild even toning and a handful of leaves with some pale waterstaining, but an exceptionally fresh copy, excellent.

Rare first French edition of the earliest written eyewitness account of Japan, possibly made by the first European to visit that country. The Portuguese adventurer Mendes Pinto went to India in 1537, and spent some years pirating on the coasts of Burma, South-east Asia and China. He claims to have been in the party of Portuguese which in either 1542 or 1543 made the first discovery of Japan; but his first voyage to Japan, which he visited a total of 4 different times, and of which he gives a detailed and reliable description, seems to have been in 1544. He was ardent admirer of Francis Xavier, to whom he lent money for the building of a church in Yamaguchi, and he gives an account’s of Xavier’s death in 1552. In 1554, Mendes Pinto entered the Society of Jesus at Goa, but two years later, in Japan, he seems to have withdrawn from it. 

Although the dates given by various historians are still a subject of debate, it remains possible that Mendes Pinto was the founder of the first European settlement near Yokohama in 1548. In 1558 he returned to Portugal, poor and disillusioned, exhausted by his efforts to obtain some reward for his services. By 1569 he had completed the writing of his Peregrinacam in his native Portuguese, but it remained unpublished until after his death. When it finally appeared in 1614 in Lisbon, it became one of the most popular and widely read travel books ever written, appearing in most of the European languages in translations over the following decades. Although in many respects the author’s credibility has been doubted—prompting criticism and defenses on his behalf within a decade of the initial publication—, his importance for the development of the European image of Japan is unquestioned: “Certainly no other 17th-century Iberian work on Asia enjoyed a comparable diffusion; and certainly Mendes Pinto may be characterized as ‘the Mandeville’ of his day” (Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe, III.1.324-25).

This first French edition is dedicated to the Cardinal of Richelieu.

 NUC lists LC, New York Public, Hopkins, Cleveland and Boston Public. OCLC adds the Bell.



* Laures 260; Cordier Japonica 37; Streit V.115; Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe, III.1.324-25; not in Alt Japan; on the controversy over the author’s credibility, see the summary of Boxer in The Christian Century and Japan, pp. 453-33.

Price: $9,850.00

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