Viaggi di Enrico Wanton alle terre incognite Australi, ed al paese delle Scimie. Zaccaria SERIMAN.
Viaggi di Enrico Wanton alle terre incognite Australi, ed al paese delle Scimie.
Viaggi di Enrico Wanton alle terre incognite Australi, ed al paese delle Scimie.

Viaggi di Enrico Wanton alle terre incognite Australi, ed al paese delle Scimie.

Naples: printed by Alessio Pellecchia (vol. 1) and Stamperia Avelliniana (vols. 2-4) for Giacomo Antonio Venaccia, 1756-1775.

Four volumes, small octavo, with 41 engraved plates (25 of which are folding, signed by Dominique dell'Acerra) and a folding engraved map (opposite p. 211 in vol. 3).; a nice set in contemporary half dark green sheepskin, flat spines gilt with ochre labels, marbled sides with vellum tips.

Anthropomorphic monkeys in the unknown southern land: with a map

A wonderful imaginary voyage in which the unknown southern land is populated by polite societies of monkeys behaving as humans. It is 'exceedingly rare and very seldom catalogued, any edition is worth adding to a collection' (Davidson). In this early Naples version the first volume (1756) was one of the earlier editions (it had first appeared in Venice in 1749); only in 1764 did a continuation appear in Venice taking the heroes on to the Land of the Dogs. That was the first version to include the map, present here in the third volume. The three subsequent volumes are all dated 1775. This is an uncommon edition; only the later Madrid printings seem to turn up with any frequency.

A wonderful imaginary voyage in which the unknown southern land is populated by polite societies of monkeys behaving as humans. It is 'exceedingly rare and very seldom catalogued, any edition is worth adding to a collection' (Davidson). In this early Naples version the first volume (1756) was one of the earlier editions (it had first appeared in Venice in 1749); only in 1764 did a continuation appear in Venice taking the heroes on to the Land of the Dogs. That was the first version to include the map, present here in the third volume. The three subsequent volumes are all dated 1775. This is an uncommon edition; only the later Madrid printings seem to turn up with any frequency.

The striking engravings have been characterised as reminiscent of Longhi's contemporary Venetian interior genre scenes though inhabited by well-dressed monkeys. In the Venice edition the plates were by the Swiss artist Giorgio Fossati; here they are signed by Dominique dell'Acerra. Seriman himself (1708-84) was a Venetian from an influential Armenian merchant family. Although little information has surfaced about his life, he wrote several books, of which this is the most startlingly original.

The narrative purports to be a translation from the English, a classic framing device for a work in the genre. Enrico Wanton escapes the dull confines of England and discovers the Southern Land after a shipwreck. He and his pal Roberto venture inland and discover the highly refined society of monkeys, with all the accoutrements of European civilization. Our heroes quickly come to favour, eventually becoming Ministers of the Realm, over-indulging in coffee-houses, balls, and regular trips to the theatre. It's one way to imagine Australia.

...

Seriman's was one of only a handful of imaginary voyages to Australia which actually chart the countryside and prominent cities of the land.

Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 44-5; Gibson, 'St. Thomas More... with a Bibliography of Utopiana'; Howgego, Invented narratives, S22; cf. Sabin 79229-79232; White, 'Zaccaria Seriman 1709-1784', p. 142, Edition 'L'; not in Friederich.

Condition Report: Light browning, consistent with age; an attractive set.

Price (AUD): $3,600.00

US$2,775.45   Other currencies

Ref: #4505041

Condition Report