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Voyage autour du Monde, par la frégate du roi La Boudeuse, et la flûte l'Etoile; en 1766, 1767, 1768 & 1769
chez Saillant & Nyon, Paris 1771 - Quarto, with 20 engraved charts, mostly folding, and three plates of boats; a few stains to endpapers and half-title but an excellent copy in handsome contemporary French cat's paw mottled calf, spine gilt with raised bands; contemporary armorial bookplate. Bougainville in the South Seas. First edition of Bougainville's narrative of his important voyage, the first French circumnavigation. Bougainville's description of his travels in the Pacific created enormous interest in Europe and was largely responsible for building up the romantic vision of a South Sea paradise where Rousseau's noble savage lived in a state of blissful innocence.Bougainville's expedition passed through the Strait of Magellan in January 1768. After some time looking for the mythical "Davis Land", said to be off the Chilean coast, they started on a direct route across the Pacific. They discovered the Tuamotus, sighted Tahiti in April, then visited Samoa, sailed through Melanesia, sighted the Great Barrier Reef, and passed through the Solomons and New Britain, to Batavia.Bougainville, not knowing of Wallis's stop there a year earlier, thought that he had discovered Tahiti, and his lengthy account of the island group is an interesting counterpart to Wallis's account. The vocabulary of three hundred words that he prints is the first such vocabulary of any Polynesian language to appear. 'It was only the Great Barrier Reef that prevented Bougainville landing on Australian soil. He had specifically set out to reach "New Holland" by running west from Quiros's "Espiritu Santo", but turned away from the obvious barrier presented by the reef. Had he made it, 'he would have come to the Australian coast near Cooktown, and would, likely enough, have been wrecked where Cook was wrecked two years later?' (Wood).The book was not a huge commercial success in its first edition, though its influence was immense: it has been estimated that only 1000 copies or less were published at the time, quite a small run for a voyage book at the time, but through its many subsequent editions and versions, translations and abridgements, it stayed permanently in print for at least a century. It was also the catalyst for intense discussion and philosophical argument - see for example the famous "supplement" by Diderot rejecting the notions of the "noble savage" and Taitbout's speculations on the fundamental differences between the "homme sauvage" and the "homme civilizé" [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-05-21           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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