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.

Going to the dogs (and monkeys) in the unknown southern land

A handsome set of this wonderfully-illustrated imaginary voyage, a vast and far-reaching satire important for its introduction of Enlightenment ideas into Italy, in which an English traveller visits kingdoms of monkeys and dogs in the unknown Southland. It is 'exceedingly rare and very seldom catalogued, any edition is worth adding to a collection' (Davidson). It is one of only a handful of imaginary voyages to Australia which actually chart the countryside and prominent cities of the land.

A handsome set of this wonderfully-illustrated imaginary voyage, a vast and far-reaching satire important for its introduction of Enlightenment ideas into Italy, in which an English traveller visits kingdoms of monkeys and dogs in the unknown Southland. It is 'exceedingly rare and very seldom catalogued, any edition is worth adding to a collection' (Davidson). It is one of only a handful of imaginary voyages to Australia which actually chart the countryside and prominent cities of the land.

Seriman (1709-1784) was a Venetian from an influential Armenian merchant family. He was a well-known librettist famous for operas with a voyaging theme (his Telemaco, on the travels of the son of Odysseus, was staged in London in 1777), but the present work is his most startlingly original.

In his story, Enrico Wanton and his great pal Roberto survive a shipwreck in the high southern latitudes, struggling ashore on the Australian continent to discover a 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. This is continued with a more strictly utopian adventure into a second realm of sophisticated dogs on the other side of the great inland sea.

The remarkable suite of engravings is reminiscent of the contemporary Venetian work of Pietro Longhi, here rather startlingly adapted by the artist Dominique dell'Acerra to depict well-dressed monkeys and dogs dressed as courtiers.

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Seriman's work had a famously complicated publishing history. The voyage to the land of the monkeys first appeared in Seriman's home-town Venice in 1749, although the continuation to the land of the dogs was only published fifteen years later in 1764 (this was also the first to include the charming map), meaning that any complete edition must necessarily be after this date. The novel became something of a cottage industry, as Italian publishers issued a number of editions over the ensuing decades. In short, the present set is therefore quite early, including a first-volume published in 1756, the latter three to match, but from a different printer, from 1775.

Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 44-5; Gibson, 'St. Thomas Moreā€¦ 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$2,439.86   Other currencies

Ref: #4505041

Condition Report