1799 · Paris and Mecca
¶ Claude-Etienne Savary (1750-1788) was an orientalist, pioneer of Egyptology and translator of Koran. In 1776 he departed for Egypt, and after having remained successively in Alexandria and Cairo, he explored (for nearly two years) several islands of Greece and the Archipelago, in particular those of Rhodes. Savary provided many details concerning the daily life of the population. A fluent speaker of Arabic, Savary's sensitive and vibrant account is a contrast striking with the austere description by Volney which appeared two years later. Savary's was the first literary voyage in Egypt, undertaken long before Chateaubriand, Lamartine or Flaubert.
CONTENTS OF THE COLLECTION:
¶ LETTRES SUR L'EGYPTE; Ou l'on offre le parallele des miurs anciennes et modernes de ses habitans, ou l'on decrit l'etat, le commerce, l'agriculture, le gouvernement et la religion du pays, la descente de S. Louis a Damiette, tiree de Joinville et des auteurs arabes, et l'histoire interessante d'Ali Bey et de ses successeurs. Paris: Bleuet jeune, Paris An VII (1798). 8vo. Three volumes. 2 ff., xvi, 398 pp.; 2 ff., 291 pp., 2 ff.; 330 pp., 1 f. PRINTED ON FINE PAPER. "Nouvelle edition," revised and corrected. The learned description of Egypt (ancient and contemporary) by Claude Savary, which is notable for its extensive quotations of scarce and almost unknown Arabian writers. Illustrated with four folding, engraved plates: three maps, and one plan of the interior of the Great Pyramid. Savary travelled to Egypt from 1776 to 1779, and spoke Arabic. The first two volumes constitute the particulars of the voyage; the third is devoted to his study of the Egyptian religion and mythology, and is based on Arabian texts.
¶ WITH: LETTRES SUR LA GRECE pour servir de suite a celles de l'Egypte. Paris, Bleuet jeune, An VII (1798). 8vo. 2 ff., 382 pp. PRINTED ON FINE PAPER. Bound with: Les Amours d'Anas-Eloujoud et Ouardi. Conte traduit de l'arabe par Claude Savary. Ouvrage posthume. Paris, Bluet, 1799. 8vo. 2 ff., 58 pp., 1 f. PRINTED ON FINE PAPER. * Savary left Egypt in September 1779 to continue his travels in Greece and Asia Minor, where he spent nearly two years. His letters on Greece are descriptive of the places and inhabitants, especially the Dodecanese. This is a beautifully printed account of Savary's voyage to Alexandria, relating especially to the island of Rhodes, and Crete, decorated with a folding map and folding plate. Weber 584. Atabey 1092; Blackmer 1493 (first edition).
¶ WITH: [Claude Savary, translator]. LE CORAN, traduit de l'Arabe, accompagne de notes, et precede d'un abrege de la VIE DE MAHOMET. A la Mecque, l'an de l'Hegire 1165 [i.e. Paris 1783]. THREE WORKS IN TWO VOLUMES. 8vo. xvi, 230 pp., 269,  pp.; , 464,  pp. Some minor foxing. * First edition of this important, and highly enlightened translation, the second attempt to translate the Koran into French. According to Norman Daniel, this would have certainly been in the luggage of Napoleon when he went to Egypt (see: Daniel, "Islam and the West," p. 313). Savary is usually accredited with having introduced the word Koran (instead of Al Coran) as the standard (see his note 1 in the Preface). He prepared his translation in Egypt where he stayed from 1776 to 1779. In his opinion one could not separate the Koran from its surroundings, thus living in an Muslim environment would benefit his translation. Savary not only, as Daniel phrases it, "humanises and romanticises the old familiar way of looking at the Prophet" (p. 313), he also furthered and qualified the research into the life of Mohammed by employing the terms used by Islamic historians and by ridding Mohammed of some of the stigma's that were commonplace in the West. He profited greatly from his good command of Arabic, which he also used for his well-known Lettres sur l'Égypte and the posthumously published Grammaire de la langue arabe vulgaire. In his Preface Savary very much criticises Du Ryer's translation, which he labels as "une rapsodie platte & ennuyeuse". To prove the superiority of his work he includes a passage of Du Ryer's translation, followed by his own. Marracci's translation he calls a word for word translation in barbaric Latin, though he prefers it over that of Du Ryer. He explains his methodology to be a verse for verse translation, claiming it to be more true to the style and spirit of its original. The added abridged version of the Life of Mohammed seems to be inspired by that of G. Sale's, which had recently been published. The notes are also after Marracci and Sale.
REFERENCES: Binark-Eren 752; Pfannmuller 165, 209; Carre I 80-90. "Islam and the West," pp. 313, 315, 320. Zenker, 1, p. 172 (no. 1402). Querard, VIII, 492. Enay, Mohammed und Der Heilige Koran (1995), Nr. 174. (Inventory #: 931)