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THE KORAN, COMMONLY CALLED THE ALCORAN OF MOHAMMED
Printed by C. Ackers for J. Wilcox, London 1734 - First Printing of the Best Translation of the Koran, Owned by an Adventurer in the Employ of the Nawam of Oudh. 254 x 203 mm (10 x 8"). 3 p.l., iii-ix, [3], 187, [1], 508 pp., [8] leaves (index). FIRST EDITION OF SALE'S TRANSLATION. Excellent late 18th century treated sheep, covers with gilt centerpiece of upturned sword topped by a Phrygian cap, the handle of the sword containing the initial "P," flat spine with gilt compartments featuring a garland centerpiece within a lozenge of leaf tools, a smaller leaf tool at corners, black morocco label. With five engraved plates: a map of Arabia, a plan of the temple in Mecca (both folding), and three genealogical tables (two folding, and one of these incorporating the fifth plate as one of its panels). Top of title page with struck-through inscription of early owner J. B.(?) Thomas as well as ink ownership inscription of Colonel Ant[oine] Polier (see below); foot of title with "Antoine Polier an:2:" neatly stamped in black ink; front free endpaper and title page with embossed coat of arms, a shield with bend sinister and a fish hauriant in each field; front free endpaper with ink stamp of A. v. Hammerstein of Abentheuer bei Birkenfeld. Harris, p. 87; Lowndes II, 1290; Graesse IV, 44; Brunet III, 1309; Rothschild 1811. Joints and extremities a bit rubbed (corners worn through), covers slightly marked, a short closed marginal tear to the map, perhaps 10 percent of the gatherings with overall faint browning (not at all noticeable), occasional minor foxing or marginal smudges, otherwise a fine copy, the text consistently clean and crisp, and the binding solid and generally well preserved, with nothing approaching a serious condition problem. This is the first accurate translation of the Qur'an, or Koran, into English, or indeed into any modern language, offered here in an attractive 18th century binding, and with intriguing provenance. Sale's Koran was the first version to be done directly from Arabic into English, and its magisterial qualities are still held in high esteem. A French translation by Du Ryer had appeared in 1649, a work that the normally restrained DNB characterizes as "despicable," and from this French translation, Alexander Ross had created an English version. The translation of Sale is in a different class. According to DNB, "Sale's translation is remarkably accurate." Partly because he has consistently "made use of native commentators . . . , his version remains the best in any language . . . . Sale's preliminary discourse and notes display a remarkable acquaintance not only with the works of European writers upon Mohammedanism and its history, but also with native Arab literature. The preface and notes are still reckoned among the best sources of information with regard to the faith of Islam and the Mohammedan peoples." A solicitor and collector of Oriental manuscripts who never left England, George Sale (ca. 1697-1736) was taught Arabic by Daidichi, a Greek from Aleppo, and probably also by the Syrian Christian Solomon Negri. Negri and Sale cooperated on a translation into Arabic of the New Testament, undertaken for the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and Sale then employed the knowledge of Arabic he had gained to translate the Qur'an. Given the gilt emblem on the boards here, the present copy was probably bound for the adventurer and collector Colonel Antoine-Louis Henri de Polier (1741-95), a military engineer from Lausanne who made a fortune in India. He had gone to that country in the employ of the British East India company, but entered the service of the wealthy and powerful Nawam of Oudh in 1772. His avocation was collecting manuscripts in Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic, some of which he donated to the French royal library. Polier returned to France in 1788, just in time for the revolution. The symbol on the cover of this volume--the Phrygian cap with sword--indicates that he supported, or wished to appear to support, the revolutionary cause. [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Rare Books (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2013-11-29           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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