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119956 119956_1 119956_2 119956_3
(QUR'AN; English.)

The Alcoran of Mahomet...

Translated out of Arabique into French; by the Sieur Du Ryer, Lord of Malezair, and Resident for the King of France, at Alexandria. And newly Englished, for the satisfaction of all, that desire to look into the Turkish vanities.

Availability: In stock

Published: London [Printed by Robert White for John Stephenson,] 1649

Stock Code: 119956

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First edition of the Qur'an in English, "a landmark in the development of Arabic studies in England" (Birchwood); this quarto edition precedes the octavo of the same year. A good, complete copy notably retaining the "needfull caveat or admonition for them who desire to know what use may be made of, or if there be danger in reading the Alcoran" bound in at the rear, this is signed by Alexander Ross (1591-1654), a chaplain to Charles I and it is he who is usually assumed to have been responsible for the translation as a whole, which was based on the first edition in French (Paris, 1647). That translator was André du Ryer, who had served as French vice-consul in Egypt, interpreter to the French ambassador in Istanbul and as ambassador extraordinary to the Sultan.

The Alcoran was apparently intended for royal dedication but was not ready before Charles was executed in January 1649. On 19 March Parliament issued a warrant to seize all copies of the book and the courtier and librarian Thomas Ross (bap. 1620, d. 1675) - and not Alexander Ross - was summoned before a parliamentary committee. However, publication went ahead and the translation was published within a matter of weeks, with a prefatory address entitled "The Translator to the Christian Reader" and a 13-page "Life of Mahomet". Although the English translation was made directly from the French without reference to Arabic, it proved highly influential in continental Europe, and was the basis for further versions in Dutch, German, and Russian (see Leaman (ed.), The Qur'an: An Encyclopaedia, p. 667). There has been much scholarly debate in attempting to identify the translator, Mordechai Feingold making a good case for Thomas Ross, "the person whom the printer had identified as responsible for the translation, and whom the Council of State hauled in for investigation not a trivial matter in the immediate aftermath of the regicide". This copy is adorned with a late-17th- or early-18th-century sketch in red pencil to the terminal blank, of a figure labelled "Mahomet".

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Quarto (180 x 137 mm). Contemporary blind-ruled sheep, rebacked and recornered, richly gilt spine, edges sprinkled red, endpapers renewed.


Woodcut headpieces and initial figures.


Board edges rubbed, restored craquelure to leather around extremities, rear board slightly marked, strictly contemporary underlining and occasional marginalia in brown ink throughout, title page damp-stained, outer corners repaired, occasional pale damping to margins, extending in sigs. H3-7, X3-6, Y3-6 and penultimate blank, small chip to top edge of sig. A2, G5 repaired at foot, small spill-burn to sig. R5 costing a couple of the letters, the sense remaining clear, restorer's ticket to rear pastedown, remains a good copy.


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