Lettres sur l'Égypte, Où l'on Offre le Parallèle des Moeurs Anciennes & Modernes de Ses Habitans, Où L'on Décrit L'état, le Commerce, l'Agriculture, le Gouvernement du Pays, & la Descente de S. Louis À Damiette, Tirée de Joinville & des Auteurs Arabes, avec des Cartes Géographiques

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by M. Claude Etienne Savary

Lettres sur l'Égypte

Title page from Lettres sur l'Égypte, volume one, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author M. Claude Étienne Savary
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Paris: Onfroi
Date 1785-1786
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language French
Volumes 3 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. 8vo (20 cm.)
Location Shelf C-2
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Map of Egypt, volume two.
Claude-Étienne Savary (1750-1788) traveled to Egypt in 1776 and remained there for three years.[1] His three volume Lettres sur l’Egypte includes not only his own personal recollections, but also observations about ancient and modern Egypt that he drew in part from Arab authors little known to his European audience.[2] Savary’s writing was highly praised at the time of its publication for its “picturesque style” and “vivid descriptions.”[3] The Lettres were translated into English, German, Dutch, and Swedish.[4] However, the work did garner criticism from those who felt the book was more novel than nonfiction, that Savary’s observations were exaggerated, and that he was prone to making mistakes when calculating dates.[5] By the ninteenth century, the Lettres had lost much of their popularity, due to the aforementioned reasons and because Savary’s writing was considered overly extravagant.[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Lettres de Savary sur l’Egypte 3.v. 8vo. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph. Jefferson sent the set to Wythe while serving as Minister to France.[7] A copy of the second edition, published in 1786, at the University of Virginia includes the signatures "T. M. Randolph" and "G. Randolph" but has no markings linking it to Wythe. Nevertheless, both George Wythe's Library[8] on LibraryThing and the Brown Bibliography[9] list the University of Virginia copy and use its edition information to identify Wythe's copy. Barbara Dean also includes this edition in her bibliographic memo.[10] The Wolf Law Library followed these sources and purchased the second edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in full mottled calf bindings with gilt decorated spines and head and tail pieces throughout. Volume one stamped "Library of Congress surplus duplicate" on verson of front free endpaper and "20 AUG 1968, 7-COPY" on title page. Volumes two and three stamped "20 AUG 1968, 7-COPY" on half-titles. Purchased from Eveleigh Books.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Headpiece, first page of text, volume three.

See also


  1. Louis-Gabriel Michaud, ed., Biographie Universelle Ancienne et Moderne: Histoire par Ordre Alphabétique de la Vie Publique et Privée de Tous les Hommes qui sont Fait Remarquer par Leurs écrits, Leurs Actions, Leurs Talents, Leurs Virtues ou Leurs Crimes (Paris: Chez Madame C. Desplaces, 1843), 108-109.
  2. Robert Kerr, A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Process of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea and Land, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time (Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1824), 18:596.
  3. Michaud, Biographie Universelle Ancienne et Moderne.
  4. Kerr, A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.
  5. Michaud, Biographie Universelle Ancienne et Moderne.
  6. Kerr, A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.
  7. See: Thomas Jefferson to Wythe, 16 September 1787.
  8. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 19, 2013.
  9. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.
  10. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 5 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).

External Links

Read volume two of this book in Google Books.