Découvertes dans la Mer du Sud. Nouvelles de M. de la Peyrouse, jusqu'en 1794. Traces de son passage trouvées en diverses isles et terres de l'Océan pacifique; grande isle peuplée d'émigrés français. LA PEROUSE, DECOUVERTES.

Découvertes dans la Mer du Sud. Nouvelles de M. de la Peyrouse…
Découvertes dans la Mer du Sud. Nouvelles de M. de la Peyrouse, jusqu'en 1794. Traces de son passage trouvées en diverses isles et terres de l'Océan pacifique; grande isle peuplée d'émigrés français.

Paris: chez Everat, n.d. but 1798.

Octavo, neat old library stamps at start; some foxing and a number of leaves stained, but overall an excellent uncut copy in original plain wrappers, spine repaired; boxed.

The mystery of the fate of La Pérouse

First edition of this rare La Pérouse fantasy, completely imaginary but cast in a remarkably realistic way, which claimed to have solved the mystery of the disappearance of the two ships of the expedition. 'Very rare and… a desirable addition either to a collection of La Pérouse items, or to a library of Pacific voyages' (Davidson).

First edition of this rare La Pérouse fantasy, completely imaginary but cast in a remarkably realistic way, which claimed to have solved the mystery of the disappearance of the two ships of the expedition. 'Very rare and… a desirable addition either to a collection of La Pérouse items, or to a library of Pacific voyages' (Davidson).

The structure of the novel is uncommonly well-conceived, recounting the story of a French sailor joining a large Portuguese expedition of four ships to the South Seas in 1793 (an echo of the Spanish expedition of Malaspina?), where they discover a small island utopia founded by refugees from the Terror in France. Throughout, an important sub-plot has the Portuguese ships continually stumbling across hints regarding La Pérouse, culminating in their rescue of an ailing but lucid survivor from the expedition, said to be the astronomer from the flagship La Boussole. The astronomer gives them a detailed description of the route La Pérouse had taken from Botany Bay, their last known landfall, up to their return to Hawaii where, in an obvious echo of the fate of Cook, they are attacked after a quarrel over the cutting down of trees.

There was long debate about the precise date of publication, with most plumping for either 1795 or 1798, but the latter is now known to be correct, thanks to some detective work by the bibliographer David Forbes. A Dutch edition was published in 1799. To date no-one has solved the riddle of the book's authorship.

Ferguson, 225; Forbes, 285; Kroepelien, 283; McLaren, 269; Sabin, 38958.

Price (AUD): $4,750.00

US$3,477.00   Other currencies

Ref: #5000412