Oprecht Verhaal van 't Eiland Van Pines, En deszelfs Bevolking; Of laatste Ontdekking van een vierde Eiland in Terra Australis, Incognita. Gelicentieert den 27. Iun? Oude of den 7. Iul? Nieuwe-st?l, 1668. ISLE OF PINES, Henry NEVILLE.

Oprecht Verhaal van 't Eiland Van Pines…
Oprecht Verhaal van 't Eiland Van Pines, En deszelfs Bevolking; Of laatste Ontdekking van een vierde Eiland in Terra Australis, Incognita. Gelicentieert den 27. Iun? Oude of den 7. Iul? Nieuwe-st?l, 1668.

Rotterdam: Joannes Naeranus, 1668.

Small quarto, 20 pp; old quarter calf with marbled boards.

Imaginary Dutch discoveries in Western Australia; between Pelsaert and Vlamingh

Early and very rare Dutch edition of this remarkable imaginary voyage, an utopia become dystopian, in which a ship of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) discovers a civilisation in western Australia: the five survivors of an English shipwreck a century earlier have procreated so successfully that there are now 11,000 residents of the accidental colony. One of three Dutch editions in 1668, this Rotterdam publication is the fullest. Since Worthington Chauncey Ford's first serious study (The Isle of Pines: An Essay in Bibliography, Boston, 1920), Neville's text has been the subject of frequent studies and speculations. The often-made point that there is a smutty sub-text to be deciphered signals the anagram of "pines" and the 'sluttish' tone of the supposed narrator's name van Sloetten.

Early and very rare Dutch edition of this remarkable imaginary voyage, an utopia become dystopian, in which a ship of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) discovers a civilisation in western Australia: the five survivors of an English shipwreck a century earlier have procreated so successfully that there are now 11,000 residents of the accidental colony. One of three Dutch editions in 1668, this Rotterdam publication is the fullest. Since Worthington Chauncey Ford's first serious study (The Isle of Pines: An Essay in Bibliography, Boston, 1920), Neville's text has been the subject of frequent studies and speculations. The often-made point that there is a smutty sub-text to be deciphered signals the anagram of "pines" and the 'sluttish' tone of the supposed narrator's name van Sloetten.

The text purports to describe the discoveries made by a Dutch ship on the Australian coast, and the narrator is supposed to be the Dutch sea captain van Sloetten. Neville's work was inspired by the tales of VOC wrecks on the coast of western Australia. In biblio-historical terms it occupies the space between the 1647 publication of Pelsaert's account of the Batavia shipwreck and consequent mayhem, the 1656 loss of the Vergulde Draeck, Thevenot's map and narrative of the Tasman discoveries published from 1663, and the 1701 publication of Vlamingh's explorations of the West Australian coast.

It was something of a publishing sensation in the seventeenth century, with its racy tale of George Pine, shipwrecked with four women on the eponymous island, in a work which became a model for many later fantasies of the paradise of the South Seas. It has long been recognised as a significant precursor of the Robinsonnade genre, and specifically of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe itself. David Fausett (The Strange Surprizing Sources of Robinson Crusoe, 1994) has made this point strongly, connecting Neville's work forward to Defoe but also backwards to the loss of two Dutch ships on the Western Australian coast, the Vergulde Draeck and the infamous Batavia. He notes that the horrific events surrounding the Batavia wreck "no doubt helped to inspire the erotic theme central to the Pines story".

The important Dutch edition has always been rare, as in fact have been all 1668 editions of Neville's work. Only the State Library of New South Wales has a serious holding, including the only copy in Australia of this version. The National Library holds a later Dutch edition (Petherick's copy of a 1669 Leiden version) along with two English versions. It seems that no early edition at all is held by the State Library of Western Australia, while the State Library of Victoria has one of the English editions of 1668 (exhibited in their "Mirror of the World" show), as does the State Library of South Australia.

Neville's book appeared as two separate parts in London in 1668 and seems to have caused widespread excitement, leading instantly to a series of continental editions. Two pamphlet printings in Amsterdam in the same year were versions of the English first part which had appeared in June 1668. Each of these Amsterdam printings comprised just six pages of text, while this fuller publication which runs to twenty pages is the full version of both first and second parts. Its publisher starts with an announcement "To the Reader" which notes that "A part of the present relation is also printed by Jacob Vinckel at Amsterdam, being defective in omitting one of the principal things, so do we give here a true copy which was sent to us authoritatively out of England, but in that language, in order that the curious reader may not be deceived by the poor translation, and for that reason this very astonishing history fall under suspicion. Lastly, admire God's wondrous guidance, and farewell".

The text also appeared almost immediately in two different French editions, a more complete translation with the title Relation de la découverte de l'isle de Pines, and an abridged version, entitled Nouvelle Découverte de l'isle de Pines située au delà de la ligne aequinoctiale. This latter formed the basis for an Italian edition, which presents the tale in its essentials; there were also German versions in the same year. It is remarkable for this period that such a widespread reach was achieved during the second six months of 1668.

Worthington Chauncey Ford noted (op. cit.) that "from London the tract soon passed to Holland, which had ever been a greedy consumer of voyages of discovery, for the greatness of that nation depended upon the sea, at once its most potent enemy and friend…". Current work focuses on different kinds of significance; John Sheckter's lengthy recent study of Neville's work, for example, is abstracted thus: "A short fiction of shipwreck and discovery written by the politician Henry Neville (1620–1694), The Isle of Pines is only beginning to draw critical attention, and until now no scholarly edition of the work has appeared. In the first full–length study of The Isle of Pines, supported by the first fully critical edition, John Scheckter discloses how Neville's work offers a critique of scientific discourse, enacts complicated engagements of race and gender, and interrogates the methods and consequences of European exploration. The volume offers a new critical model for applying post–colonial and postmodern examination strategies to an early modern work. Scheckter argues that the structure and publication history of the fiction, with its separate, unreliable narrators, along with its several topics–shipwreck survival, the founding of a new society, the initial phases of European colonization–are imbued with the sense of uncertainty that permeated the era".

Ford, W.C. Isle of Pines, 14; JCB, 3:174; Landwehr, VOC, 461; Sabin, 82189. See also John Scheckter, The Isle of Pines, 1668: Henry Neville's Uncertain Utopia (2013); Susan Bruce, Ed. Thomas More: Utopia; Francis Bacon: New Atlantis; Henry Neville: The Isle of Pines (Oxford, 1999).

Condition Report: A good uncut copy with generous margins; joints of binding splitting but sides firmly held.

Price (AUD): $16,400.00

US$11,582.88   Other currencies

Ref: #4505067

Condition Report