Skip to product information
1 of 10

Jean de Léry, Histoire d'un voyage fait en la terre du Bresil, dite Amerique. 1599.

Regular price
€7.900,00 EUR
Regular price
Sale price
€7.900,00 EUR


Seldomly seen and particularly provocative edition of De Léry’s account of Brasil


Jean de Léry (1534-1611).

Histoire d'un voyage fait en la terre du Bresil, dite Amerique. Contenant la navigation, & choses remarquables, veues sur mer par l'autheur. Le comportement de Villegagnon en ce païs la. Les mœurs & façons de viure estranges des sauvages bresiliens; avec un colloque de leur langage. Ensemble la description de plusieurs animaux, poissons, diformes, arbres, herbes, fruicts, racines, & autres choses singulieres, & du tout incognues par deçà: dont on verra les sommaires des chapitres au commencement du livre.

[Geneva], pour les héritiers d'Eustache Vignon, 1599.


8°. [72], 478, [1 blank], [16] pp.

Complete with all 8 full-page woodcut illustrations, including the famous folding plate of the battle between the Topinambous and the Margalas, which is often missing.

18th century red morocco, richly gold-tooled, spine with raised bands, gilt sides. Recently finely restored, new endpapers.


The rarest edition of Jean de Léry’s account of his time among the Tupinambá people in what is now the Rio de Janeiro region. This 1599 edition has never been recorded at auction, is absent from most major bibliographies, and does not appear to be digitally available.

The book is an invaluable and very early source on the lives and culture of the pre-colonial inhabitants of South America. It includes a dictionary of their language, examples of their music, and iconic illustrations depicting their customs. Originally, Jean de Léry approached these subjects with respect. However, as he produced successive editions over the following decades, the changing political and religious climate in France influenced his portrayal of the Tupinambá. The descriptions and depictions increasingly demonized them, and new illustrations were added, portraying the Tupinambá as violent cannibals, caricaturing them in a negative light. Books like these were crucial in forming the perception of the other in white Western culture and formed a major inspiration for subsequent influential works.

The edition we offer here is the first that was dedicated to Louise de Coligny (1550-1620), “Princess of Orange.” She married William of Orange (1533-1584, also known as William the Silent and the Founder of The Netherlands) in 1583. Her son from that marriage was Frederick Henry, who took a major interest in the further colonization of Brazil by the Dutch.

Scott D. Juall on this edition: “Between 1578 and 1611, Jean de Léry published five French editions of Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Brésil, a travel narrative in which the Calvinist recounts the failed French colonial enterprise in Brazil in 1556-1558. While each edition of the transforming work reveals changing interests and motives, the fourth is particularly provocative. When Léry published the edition in 1599-1600, more than forty years after his travels, decades of intense political and religious unrest in France subsided as the devastating Wars of Religion had come to an end one year earlier. The transforming political and religious climate in France and throughout Europe provided Léry with all the more impetus to develop the Calvinist project.”


Condition: A fine, recently restored copy. Paper a little browned, small tear in corner fold of the folding plate. Slight stains at the genitals in some of the plates, as if a previous owner had attached underwear...

Reference: Borba de Moraes I, p.472 (1600 edition); Sabin 40152 (1600 edition).

Grégoire Holtz, “Bibliographie raisonnée sur Jean de Léry’” in: Viatica [Online], HS 5 | 2022.

Scott D. Juall, “‘Beaucoup plus barbares que les Sauvages mesmes’: Cannibalism, Savagery, and Religious Alterity in Jean de Léry’s Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Brésil (1599- 1600)”, in: L’Esprit Créateur, Encounters with Alterity in Early Modern French Travel Literature, vol. 4, n°1, 2008, pp. 58-71.


Contact us to make reservation