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BORY DE ST VINCENT, Jean Baptiste.

Essais sur Les Isles Fortunées et L'Antique Atlantide,

ou Précis de l'Histoire générale de l'Archipel des Canaries.

Paris: Boudouin, Imprimeur de l'Institut National, [1803] Stock Code: 112168
£1,750.00
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First edition, an unusually fresh complete copy in handsome contemporary tree calf, of this survey of the Atlantic Islands by French naturalist Jean Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent (1778-1846). The "Isles Fortunees", the Blessed Isles, of the Atlantic, now understood to be the Canary Islands, were thought in classical antiquity to have been the abode of mythological heroes and beasts, the site of some of Hercules's adventures, as well as the possible location of Atlantis. This survey by Bory de St Vincent is in the main a scientific (naturalistic, geographical and archaeological) study of the islands, but does engage with the mythological ideas about the archipelago, most notably providing a whole chapter (illustrated by the famous folding map, present here) postulating "That the Canary Islands and the other Islands of the Atlantic ocean are in fact the debris of a continent", namely the mythical Atlantis. He devotes a second chapter to the native Guanches, and speculates that they might have been the last remaining Atlanteans. The author himself was already widely travelled, having been sent as a naturalist with Captain Baudin's expedition to Australia in 1798, getting as far as Mauritius and exploring Reunion Island and others in the Indian Ocean. Later in life he joined the army, was present at the battle of Ulm and Austerlitz, and in 1808 went to Spain with Marshal Soult. In 1815 he supported Napoleon, and was consequently proscribed after the Bourbon restoration, spending several years in exile but returning quietly to Paris in 1820. Later in 1829 he headed a scientific expedition to the Pelloponnese, and in 1839 led an exploration of Algeria. Bory was an anti-Cuvierian supporter of Lamarck's theories of evolution, and his editorship from 1822 of the Dictionnaire classique d'histoire naturelle (Classical Dictionary of Natural History) is particularly significant insofar as a copy travelled with Darwin on the Beagle.

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Description

Quarto (250 x 195 mm). Contemporary tree calf, spine gilt in compartments, black morocco title label, gilt rolled border to sides, gilt rule to board edges, Greek key gilt roll to turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt.

Illustrations

With the half title and errata leaf. One folding map printed in black and red also highlighted in red by hand (showing the conjectural Atlantis), 2 other folding maps, 3 folding engraved illustrated plates, and 4 other engraved illustrated plates.

Condition

Later bookplate to front pastedown. Covers generally rubbed at the extremities and scuffed to sides, front joint and the ends of rear joint repaired, internally remarkably clean and fresh but for the very occasional spot and a very mild damp-stain to the top portions of some plates. Superficially scuffed but still a very good copy indeed.

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