Travels through Syria and Egypt, by VOLNEY, Constantin-François (1757-1820).

VOLNEY, Constantin-François (1757-1820).

Travels through Syria and Egypt, in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785. Containing the present Natural and Political State of those Countries, their Productions, Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce; with Observations on the Manners, Customs, and Government of the Turks and Arabs. Illustrated with Copper Plates. By M. C-F. Volney. Translated from the French. In two volumes. Vol. I [-II]. The Second Edition. London, Robinson, 1788.

Second Edition in English. Two volumes, 8vo (205 x 120 mm), pp. [ii], xii, 418; [iv], iv, 500, [16] index, with two folding maps, and three folding copper-engraved plates, in contemporary mottled calf, triple gilt fillet with roll tool border to covers, spines gilt but rubbed, wanting the labels and numbering pieces: bindings a little dusty and worn, with Edmund Skottowe’s later pictorial bookplate.

The second appearance in English - largely a reimpression of the 1787 London edition - of this important work on Syria and Egypt by Constantin-François Volney, indefatigable traveller, linguist and government official who was thrown out of America for suspected espionage and who narrowly escaped the guillotine in his native France. Based on his travels in the Middle East from 1782-1785, this account was first published in 1787 in French and was translated into English in the same year. ‘One of the most exact and valuable works of its kind ever published’ (Chambers, Cyclopaedia, quoted by Cox). It contains two folding maps and three attractive folding plates, of the court of the Temple at Balbec, the ruins of Palmyra and a plan of the Temple of the Sun at Balbec.
‘Volney’s popular and highly regarded work was the result of three years’ travels, a good deal of which was spent in Cairo. His account has never really been surpassed. Volney went to great lengths in preparation, which included a year devoted to exercise and self-deprivation and three months learning the language required in a convent in the mountains of Lebanon’ (Blackmer Catalogue).

ESTC t12218; Cox I, 235 (for the French edition); Lowndes IV, 2790 (English edition of 1787).

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