The Russian Empire: the first Western historical text translated into Ottoman Turkish and printed in Bulaq

Castéra, Jean-Henri / Argyropoulos, Iakovos (Yakovaki Efendi) (transl.). Icmal-i eva'il-i ahval-i devlet-i Rusiya. Katerina Tarihi (General Overview of the Russian Empire, or The History of Catherine).

Bulaq, Matbaatü Sahibi'l-Fütuhati'l-Bahire, [1830 CE] = 1246 H.

4to. (10), 225, (1) pp. Contemporary black cloth boards over black leather spine with gilt decoration.


Early Bulaq imprint; a translation of the French biography of Catherine the Great by Jean-Henri Castéra (1749-1838), "Vie de Catherine II, Impératrice de Russie", published in two volumes in Paris in 1797. It was exceedingly popular in Europe and saw translations into many languages. This was the first Western historical text translated into Ottoman Turkish and printed by the Bulaq press in Cairo, at the time of volatile relations between the Ottoman Empire, Russia, and Egypt. The first edition, comprising only 160 pages, was published by the Bulaq Press in 1244 (AD 1828). The present, enlarged second edition with annotations by the editor Sadullah Said Amedi was issued two years later. There appear to be two versions, differing in the pattern of the headpiece and numbering of the index pages; possibly the headpiece was replaced after the first printing plate broke (our copy seems to show broken lines in the upper part of the headpiece). The translator Iakovos Argyropoulos ("Yakovaki Efendi", 1776-1850) was a linguist and official translator of the Sultan, appointed as official dragoman in Vienna.

Light waterstaining throughout, mostly in the lower half; old tears and repairs to blank margins of first leaf. Old numbers written and stamped in blue ink to front endpaper; minute wormholes to blank inner margins of final leaves; a tear to p. 111.

Özege 10359. OCLC 951557955. J. Strauss, "An den Ursprüngen des modernen politischen Wortschatzes des Osmanisch-Türkischen", in: Radoslav Katicic (ed.), "Herrschaft" und "Staat". Untersuchungen zum Zivilisationswortschatz im südosteuropäischen Raum 1840-1870. Eine erste Bilanz (Vienna 2004), pp. 197-256, here at p. 208.

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