London: Printed for S. Crowder, T. Longman, G. Robinson, R. Baldwin, and E. Johnston, 1776. Item #05597
Tobias Smollett's Translation of Bishop Fénelon's 1699 "Mirror for Princes"
[SMOLLETT, Tobias]. The Adventures of Telemachus, the Son of Ulysses. Translated from the French of Messire François Salignac de la Mothe-Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray. By T. Smollet, M.D. London: Printed for S. Crowder, T. Longman, G. Robinson, R. Baldwin, and E. Johnston, 1776.
First edition. Two twelvemo volumes (6 5/8 x 4 1/16 inches; 169 x 102 mm.). [iv], -286; [iv], -360 pp.
Handsomely bound in early twentieth-century polished calf by Rivière & Son (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper). Covers ruled in blind, spines ruled in blind with five raised bands and two olive green morocco gilt lettering labels, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers. Date in gilt at foot of spine. A fine and very attractive example.
The Adventures of Telemachus is the first critical edition of Tobias Smollett's 1776 translation of Bishop Fénelon's 1699 "mirror for princes," written especially for Duc de Burgogne, heir presumptive to Louis XIV. The slender plot fills out a gap in Homer's Odyssey, recounting the educational travels of Telemachus, son of Ulysses, accompanied by his tutor, Mentor, who is revealed early on in the story to be Minerva, goddess of wisdom, in disguise. Both in its original French and its many translations, The Adventures of Telemachus was one of the most popular and revered works of the eighteenth century. There were more than ten English prose and poetry versions, including this masterful prose translation by Smollett.
Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), “English satirical novelist, best known for his picaresque novels. Smollett apprenticed as a surgeon, and throughout his life he combined the roles of medical man and writer…In 1748 Smollett published his novel Roderick Random, a graphic account of British naval life at the time, and he also translated from the French the great picaresque romance Gil Blas. Peregrine Pickle was published in 1751, and The Adventures of Ferdinand, Count Fathom…appeared in 1753…He translated Don Quixote from the Spanish (1755), and in 1756 he became editor of The Critical Review, a Tory and church paper, at the same time writing his four-volume Complete History of England (1757-58…In 1759 he was convicted for libel on Admiral Sir Charles Knowles in The Critical Review, fined, and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment in the King’s Bench Prison. He drew on his experiences there for his two-volume novel The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves (1762)…His finest work, Humphry Clinker (1771), recounts the adventures of a family traveling through Britain” (Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature).
NCBEL 2, 965.