8vo. (4) ff. XC (ie 88) ff. Bound in 18th c. mottled calf; some contemporary marginal annotations on 4 pages; some minor spotting; generally very good overall.
Exceeding rare early (see below) edition of the first printed collection of voyages and travels of the Age of Discovery in the French language. For a long time attributed to Amerigo Vespucci, it is, in fact, a translation and adaptation of Fracanzano Montalbodo’s Paesi Novamenti Retrovati, Vicenza, 1507, “the most important vehicle for the dissemination throughout Renaissance Europe of the news of the great discoveries, east and west” (Printing and the Mind of Man). For its historically epoch-making contents, which includes the earliest printed description of the voyage of Vasco da Gama, as well as for the literary form it created, the generally sober Penrose has called the work “one of the most influential books ever published” (Travel & Discovery, p. 277). From Montalboddo derive the classic 16th century travel anthologies whose realm of interest was neither simply east nor west but global: Grynaeus, Ramusio, Eden, Hakluyt, Purchas, etc. Translated from Italian into Latin, German, Dutch and French, the work had an enormous diffusion throughout continental Europe during the first quarter of the 16th century. All early editions are rare; the French (along with the Dutch) the rarest of all others.
One of the most important travel books relating to the trans-oceanic discoveries ever published, the contents of Sensuyt le Nouveau Monde are a veritable feast of early voyage accounts – Columbus’ three voyages, Cabral, Pinzon and Vespucci’s voyages to Brazil, etc. Moreover, it constitutes the earliest acquirable accounts of Columbus’ second and third voyages and, in absolute terms, the earliest in the French language. Owing to their unqualified first appearance in the present work, the importance of the two letters by the Italian merchant Girolamo Seringi on the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India should also be emphasized:
“Columbus, Magellan, and Vasco da Gama accomplished the three greatest feats of navigation history. Vasco da Gama’s was an even more remarkable performance than that of Columbus, who covered 2600 miles in 5 weeks from Gomera to the Bahamas compared with the 3800 miles in 3 months traveled by Vasco da Gama from the Cape Verdes, crossing almost completely the South Atlantic. Leaving Lisbon on 8 July 1497 , he sailed via St. Helena (8 August) to the Cape of Good Hope, up the East African coast to the Bay of Lourenco, Marques, Mozambique, Mombasa to Calcutta, where he arrived on 20 May, 1498. He returned to Lisbon in September, 1499… This voyage in the eastern hemisphere is comparable in importance to Columbus’ in the western. Like the discovery of America, this great navigational achievement helped to shift the center of power away from the Mediterranean to the countries with Atlantic seaboards. (PMM 42).
Prior to the appearance of this collection of voyage accounts, discoveries were typically communicated in short, ephermeral, printed public letters of a handful of leaves in length, the most famous example of which is certainly the Columbus letter or the comparable publications attributed to Vespucci. The present work thus represents a dramatic change on two counts: while still retaining a level of newsworthiness for a growing reading public in the vernacular, the present work 1) puts the various discoveries in an historical and geographical context and 2) because of its format reached a much larger circle of readers.
The present text appeared under two slightly different titles in several editions during the first quarter of the 16th century, all very rare. The Trepperel publishers, responsible for the present edition, are credited with producing three editions, none of them dated. The only dated edition of the text appeared under a slightly different title, Le nouveau monde, published by Galliot du Pre in 1517. Bibliographers are not of one mind about priority, which has shifted between the undated Trepperel editions and the Galliot edition. Kemp gives priority to the dated Galliot edition which is not 1516 as printed in the priviledge but, in fact, 1517 because of the new calendar; he dates the present edition c. 1523, suggesting a hypothetical Trepperel edition of c.1518 preceding it. The authoritative John Carter Brown Catalogue Alden/Landis writes in its entry for the 1516 (ie. 1517) edition: 1st published in Paris 1515 (516/9) referring to the Trepperel edition. We locate two US copies of a Trepperel edition in the US (NYPL, Princeton).
* Harrisse 83; Alden 515/8; Brunet V, 1159; Atkinson, 10; cf Borba de Moraes, p. 582-583; Bechtel (Gothiques), V-89. Kemp, W., Les editions du Nouveau Monde… (1517- v. 1534)…. Bulletin du bibliophile, no. 2, Paris, 1994.