L'elegie du Tograi, avec quelques sentences tirées des poetes Arabes, l'hymne d'Avicenne, & les proverbes du Chalife Gali.
8vo. 80 pp. 18th-century blind-ruled brown calf, blindstamped arms of William Stirling Maxwell on the upper cover and his blind cipher on the lower cover. Spine and vertical title label gilt; turn-ins gilt. Marbled flyleaves. All edges red. Green silk marker.
First edition in a Western language of the celebrated autobiographical lament of the poet, royal secretary, and soldier Al-Tughra'i, who rose to Vizier only to be beheaded. His elegy, "Lamiyyat al-'Adjam", is probably the first major work of Arabic poetry published in the west. The other significant early Arabic work here contains an offering of proverbs selected from the "Exalted Aphorisms" of the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib (601-661), the only person born in Mecca's sacred Kaaba sanctuary, cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad.
The editor and Royal Interpreter for Arabic, Pierre Vattier (1623-47), translated these pieces into French for their stylistic elegance and textual importance. He held the Chair of Arabic at the Collège de France from 1658 until his death and contributed an extended opening essay on Arabic prosody, here in its only edition.
Front joint cracked, extremeties slightly bumped; title remargined at lower edge. Altogether a fine copy.
Provenance: from the collection of the proverb bibliographer P. A. Gratet-Duplessis (1792-1853), recording on the final flyleaf the date of his acquisition (Lyon, 1828) and the price paid. In the sale of his library in 1856, the volume was described as a "joli exemplaire de ce curieux et rare petit volume" (p. 156, no. 969). A slightly later owner has quoted from Duplessis' bibliography on the second front flyleaf. Later bookplates of William Stirling Maxwell, Keir House, and Lt. Col. V. S. M. de Guinzbourg on pastedowns and flyleaf.
Schnurrer 196. Zenker, BO 403. Cioranescu 65583. Gratet-Duplessis, Bibliographie parémiologique, 70. Moll, Sprichwörterbibliographie, 7624 ("1640" in error).