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Histoire de la sultane de Perse et des visirs.

Contes turcs. Composez en langue turque par Chéc Zadé, et traduits en françois.

Paris: widow of Claude Barbin, 1707 Stock Code: 120875
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First edition of this important collection of oriental tales now known as the Forty Viziers, published three years after Galland's first edition of the Thousand and One Nights, and following its characteristic frame-narrative structure. Notably rare: one copy traced at auction, one in British institutions (SOAS), and six worldwide; bibliographers including Chauvin and Macdonald claimed never to have seen a copy. A second edition with an Amsterdam imprint appeared later the same year and is similarly rare. An English translation was published by Tonson the year after.

The frame-narrative echoes the Biblical story of Potiphar's Wife, concerning a young prince who refuses the advances of his stepmother, who then denounces him to the sultan. The prince is put on trial, by means of alternate tales told by the sultana and the forty viziers. Petis de la Croix (1653-1713), dragoman to Louis XIV, attributes the Turkish original to one Chéc Zadé, tutor to Ottoman ruler Murad II (r. 1421-51), but it is now thought that that the tales date back to Arabic original no longer extant, possibly written in Egypt for the Turkic ruler al-Ikhshid (r. 935-46), and that two writers were involved in its production: "an Ahmed-i Misri Ahmed the Egyptian who translated the work from Arabic and presented it to Murad II (r. 1421-51), and a Sheykh Zade who took up the text later, presenting it to both Murad II and Mehmed II (r. 1451-81)" (Burrill, "Sheykh-Zade", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed.) The work was to leave an influential trail, and European authors to have read it include Hans Christian Andersen, who used it as a source for The Emperor's New Clothes.

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Duodecimo in fours and eights (159 x 92 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, spine gilt in compartments.


Gilt bookplate of French physician and bibliophile Tibulle Desbarreaux-Bernard (1798-1880) to the front free endpaper; contemporary ownership inscription ("Simon Chirury") and later ink-stamp ("E. T. Simon, D. T") to title page. Binding expertly refurbished, mild craquelure to spine now stabilised, a few faint scores to rear board, pastedowns abraded in places, revealing lining made from a contemporary manuscript to the rear, upper-outer corners of text-block faintly creased, small tear to G1 costing a few letters either side, the sense unimpaired, spill-burn to I6, short closed tear to fore edge Dd2, a few other light marks. A very good copy.


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