A Voyage round the World. Performed by Order of His most Christian Majesty, in the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769… in the Frigate La Boudeuse, and the store-ship L'Etoile. Louis Antoine de BOUGAINVILLE.
A Voyage round the World. Performed by Order of His most Christian Majesty, in the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769… in the Frigate La Boudeuse, and the store-ship L'Etoile.

A Voyage round the World.
A Voyage round the World. Performed by Order of His most Christian Majesty, in the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769… in the Frigate La Boudeuse, and the store-ship L'Etoile.

London: J. Nourse and T. Davies, 1772.

Quarto, with five folding maps and a folding plate of canoes; contemporary calf, spine gilt in compartments.

Tahiti and the new Cythera, and very nearly Australia

The great French voyage of the Cook period, in many ways responsible for the pervasive notions of tropical paradise and the noble savage. This is the first English edition of the first French circumnavigation, translated and with an introduction by Johann Reinhold Forster (according to the preface, although the translation at least is now thought to have been the work of Forster's son Georg). Forster senior calls the voyage "a work written by a learned, intelligent, and judicious traveller, which abounds with remarkable events and curious observations…", and says that he has edited "and partially vindicated the British nation where we thought the author had been unjustly partial".

The great French voyage of the Cook period, in many ways responsible for the pervasive notions of tropical paradise and the noble savage. This is the first English edition of the first French circumnavigation, translated and with an introduction by Johann Reinhold Forster (according to the preface, although the translation at least is now thought to have been the work of Forster's son Georg). Forster senior calls the voyage "a work written by a learned, intelligent, and judicious traveller, which abounds with remarkable events and curious observations…", and says that he has edited "and partially vindicated the British nation where we thought the author had been unjustly partial".

The publication of Bougainville's narrative did a great deal to build the notion of a romantic paradise in the South Seas. Bougainville showed the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in naming Tahiti "Nouvelle Cythère" after the small island off the coast of southern Greece which, in Greek mythology, provided a sanctuary for Aphrodite, goddess of love. The reality was less sublime: he took Aoutourou back with him from Tahiti to Paris, giving him lessons in French for the remainder of the voyage, but the uprooted Tahitian just didn't get it: Forster dismissed him as "stupid". He was allowed to go home on a subsequent voyage but died of smallpox on the way, another tragic minor figure in the history of discovery and colonisation.

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Bougainville sailed from Nantes in November 1766 to the Falkland Islands. They picked up a supply ship, the Etoile, and both ships passed through the Strait of Magellan in January 1768, spent time looking for the mythical "Davis Land", said to be off the Chilean coast, and then started on a direct route across the Pacific. Bougainville discovered the Tuamotus, and in April sighted and claimed possession of Tahiti, unaware of Wallis's visit less than a year before.

He continued on, finally reaching the New Hebrides and 'La Austrialia del Espíritu Santo', discovered by Quiros in 1606 and believed to be part of the supposed Southern Continent. The only way to determine this, Bougainville resolved, was to head further to the west in the hope of sighting the eastern coast of New Holland. 'This he did, only to be impeded by the Great Barrier Reef and, although several of his crew claimed to have sighted land, this was not confirmed and the ships were headed to the N. Nevertheless, Bougainville concluded that he was close to some extensive land and, in running westwards from Espíritu Santo, he had dared to face the risk of the legendary lee-shore of New Holland and New Guinea, even though prudence, shortage of food and the condition of his vessels would have justified his heading northwards at an earlier date' (Colin Jack-Hinton, The Search for the Islands of Solomon, p. 256); G. A. Wood (The Discovery of Australia, pp. 369-79), observes that had Bougainville persevered 'he would have come to the Australian coast near Cooktown, and would, likely enough, have been wrecked where Cook was wrecked two years later'.

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Provenance: Stafford Henry Northcote, Bt (1818-1887, British politician, with armorial bookplate); Carl Wendell Carlsmith (Hawaiian collector, with book-ticket); Frederick E. Ellis (San Juan Islands collector, with pictorial bookplate); private collection (Sydney).

Borba de Moraes, p. 115; Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 96-7; Hill, p. 32; Kroepelien, 113; O'Reilly-Reitman, 285.

Condition Report: Slight rubbing to gilt on spine otherwise a very attractive copy.

Price (AUD): $8,000.00

US$5,890.00   Other currencies

Ref: #4505243

Condition Report