First French translation of a classic Russian epic, the Tale of Igor’s Campaign, along with lifetime translations of Zhukovskii’s most famous ballads. A fine example of this uncommon work.
Musin-Pushkin discovered The Tale of Igor’s Campaign in manuscript form in 1797. As soon as he had published it, various interpretations of the work started to appear in modern Russian, both in prose and in verse. However, because the language of the work was so difficult, translations into foreign languages took much longer. It was first translated into German by Johann Richter in 1803, then into Polish by Cyprian Godebski in 1806. Blanchard’s translation was the third publication of Igor in a foreign language.
Blanchard explains in the introduction to this work that he first encountered Igor when he read the tale in Musin-Pushkin’s 1800 publication. Deeply impressed, he first attempted to translate it in prose before opting for the verse translation that appears in the present publication. Blanchard based his translation on Ivan Levitsii’s interpretation of the XII century work into modern Russian, the original version of which is also present in this publication.
In the second part of the book, alongside nineteen original French poems likely written by Blanchard himself, we find Zhukovskii’s translated ballads Akhill (Achille) and Eolova Arfa (La Harpe d’Eole), both originally published in 1815. They are considered to be the finest examples of the poet’s romantic work. Belinskii, for example, wrote of Eolova Arfa that, ‘она — прекрасное и поэтическое произведение, где сосредоточен весь смысл, вся благоухающая прелесть романтики Жуковского.’ [It is a magnificent and poetic work, in which all of Zhukovskii’s sense and fragrant charm have been concentrated.] (Complete works, vol. VII, p. 171).
Blanchard’s publication is very rare. We could find only one copy appearing on the market in 2008, bound together with a Pushkin first edition, which we acquired at that time. WorldCat locates only three copies in public libraries: Bibliothèque nationale de France, The British Library, The Russian National Library.
8vo (22.5 x 14 cm). Frontispiece engraved by A. Grachev, pp. 111, including half-title and title, xvi, ; pp. v-vi with upper corner torn off without any text loss. Parallel texts in French and Russian, followed by 19 poems in French only. Contemporary half-calf over marbled boards; extremities of the spine restored.
Sobranie V.A. Krylova (Roza Vetrov, Skt. Peterburg, 2013), No183; Trudi Otdela drevnerusskoy literaturi / Akademiya nauk SSSR. Institut russkoy literatury (M.; L.: Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1935): Т. 2. P.N. Berkov. K bibliografii zapadnykh izucheniy i perevodov. “Slova o polku Igoreve”, p. 151.
Stock ID: 90371