Historia General y Natural de las Indias, Islas y Tierra-Firme del Mar Océano…

Historia General y Natural de las Indias, Islas y Tierra-Firme del Mar Océano…
Historia General y Natural de las Indias, Islas y Tierra-Firme del Mar Océano…

Madrid: Real Academia, 1851 -, 1855.

Four volumes, folio, with a total of 15 plates (three folding, one coloured); a fine uncut set in contemporary half morocco.

"The greatest classic of the early years of Spanish activity in the New World"

The first full publication of one of the great eyewitness accounts of the Spanish settlement of the New World, only published in full for the first time in this edition: "this is the source from which most literary writers have drawn their accounts of the early occurrences in the New World" (Church). The great sixteenth-century text was "a massive work which, if published when it was written, might have given its author the literary stature of Barros… As Oviedo's work stands, it is a noble monument; in fact, it is the greatest classic of the early years of Spanish activity in the New World to be chronicled by a contemporary…" (Penrose). Oviedo gives the earliest full and credible descriptions of many New World species, along with the best depiction of life in the Americas in the early 16th century.

The first full publication of one of the great eyewitness accounts of the Spanish settlement of the New World, only published in full for the first time in this edition: "this is the source from which most literary writers have drawn their accounts of the early occurrences in the New World" (Church). The great sixteenth-century text was "a massive work which, if published when it was written, might have given its author the literary stature of Barros… As Oviedo's work stands, it is a noble monument; in fact, it is the greatest classic of the early years of Spanish activity in the New World to be chronicled by a contemporary…" (Penrose). Oviedo gives the earliest full and credible descriptions of many New World species, along with the best depiction of life in the Americas in the early 16th century.

The Spanish historian and writer was well-connected at the Spanish court, which enabled him, for example, to be present at the return of Christopher Columbus in 1493. After travel and study in Italy he made his way to the New World in 1514, holding held many offices there; he began his Historia general y natural in the 1520s; returning to Spain in 1523, publication of his brief work Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias brought him to the attention of the Emperor, and led to his appointment as official Chronicler of the Indies in 1532. He travelled frequently to the Americas, spending almost twenty years in Panama, Colombia, and on Hispaniola, until his death shortly after mid-century. The first nineteen books of his Historia general were printed in Seville in 1535. The twentieth book did not appear until 1577, the year of his death, while the complete fifty books of the history were printed only in this form in 1851-55. No full English translation was ever published.

For the ethno-historian Oviedo's Historia is one of the most valuable of the early chronicles. He is especially important for southern Middle America, where he had considerable personal experience. For other areas he used many first-hand sources now lost to us. The strongest criticism that has been directed against him is that he followed his sources uncritically and is a more a chronicler than historian. But because of his interest in all aspects of the New World, he recorded much that is of interest to the student of Indian life at the time of Contact' ("Handbook of Middle American Indians", vol. 13).

Borba de Moraes, II, pp. 644-5('This magnificent edition is hard to find today'); LeClerc, 433; Palau, 89532 ("magnifica en todos conceptos, tanto por el merito historico y literario como por la presentacion nitida y correcta"); Penrose, Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance, pp. 292-4; Sabin, 57990.

Price (AUD): $11,500.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504977