Oriental sayings

Galland, Antoine (ed.). Les paroles remarquables, les bons mots et les maximes des Orientaux. Traduction de leurs ouvrages en Arabe, en Persan & en Turc, avec des remarques.

Paris, Simon Benard & Michel Brunet, 1694.

8vo (98 x 160 mm). (18), 356, (28) pp.

(Bound after) II: Theophrastus / La Bruyère, Jean de (transl.). Les caracteres de Theophraste traduits du grec: avec les caracteres ou les moeurs de ce siecle. Sixième edition. Paris, Estienne Michallet, 1691. (32), 587, (5) pp. 18th century full calf with gilt supralibros of Louis-Robert-Hippolyte Bréhant de Plélo on both covers. Spine on five raised bands; compartments show gilt armorial crest. Marbled endpapers. Leading edges gilt. All edges red.


Original edition of the first book published by the French orientalist Antoine Galland (1646-1715), soon to be famous for his influential translation of Alf Layla wa-Layla. "Galland, professor of Arabic at the Collège de France since 1709, had made three journeys to Turkey, the Levant and Palestine, and approached the Orient without prejudice and with an open mind. Following the example of Plutarch's Apophthegmata and the anecdote collections of Valerius Maximus, he set about collecting from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish works, such as the chronicles of Makin, of Bar Hebraeus, of Mirchond, from the Matla' us-sa'dain of Abdarrazzaq, from the Tag ut-tavarikh of Hodsha Effendi, from Sa'adi's Gulistan, from Latifi and other sources, remarkable sayings to show his readers that the orientals did not rank behind the West for wit, powers of observation, and pithiness of expression. To these he appended maxims taken from the collections of sayings published by Erpenius and Golius" (cf. Fück). Although a reissue appeared at Den Haag the same year, the work is very rare; Fück reports that he knows it only from the reprinted text in the supplement to d'Herbelot's Bibliothèque orientale (1780).

Bound first is the sixth edition of La Bruyère's Theophrastus translation, containing 77 new characters, including Le distrait, Onuphre, the portraits of La Fontaine, Jean de Santeul, and others.

Provenance: from the library of the French diplomat and military officer Louis-Robert-Hippolyte Brehant de Plélo (1699-1734), bound for him with his arms stamped in gilt to both covers (OHR, 1715, fer no. 1). Brehant de Plélo married Louise-Françoise Phélipeaux de la Vrilliere, daughter of a secretary of state of Louis XV. He fell during the siege of Danzig on 27 May 1734. Latterly in the collection of the French industrialist and patron Pierre Bergé (1930-2017); acquired from the sale of his estate.


I: Chauvin I, 81A. Tchemerzine-Scheler III, 802. Fück 101. OCLC 14147406.

II: Brunet III, 720. OCLC 32361379.