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MOLINA, Juan Ignacio

The Geographical, Natural and Civil History of Chili . . .  With notes from the Spanish and French versions, and an appendix, containing copious extracts from the Araucana of Don Alonzo de Ercilla.  Translated from the original Italian by an American Gentleman.  2 vols.


Middletown (Conn.), Printed by I. Riley, 1808.


8vo.  I: (4) ff., xii, 271 pp., (1) f.,  with folding map of Chile; II: (1) f., viii pp., (1) blank f., 305, (1) pp., (1) blank f., 68 pp. with "A Sketch of the Aracuana of Don Alonzo de Ercilla."  Contemporary half calf (corners rubbed, top of spine of Vol. 1 chipped).   Cancelled library stamps on title pp. & half title pp., tear repaired in inner margin of map, paper somewhat discoloured and some occasional spotting.

First edition in English.   "The finest and most famous of the eighteenth century accounts of Chile . . . painstaking and accurate" (Simon Collier, Ideas and Politics of Chilean Independence 1808-1833, pp. 23 & 27).   The work was translated by Richard Alsop from Molina's Compendio della storia geografica, naturale e civile del regno de Chile which appeared anonymously in 1776, in which he gives a full and detailed description of the climate, physical aspects, natural resources, botany, zoology of Chile, and history of the country.   He was born in Chile, trained as a Jesuit and was sent to Italy in 1767.   "Among the first to give cultural expression to Americanism were the creole Jesuits expelled from their homeland in 1767, who became in exile the literary precursors of American nationalism . . to dispel European ignorance of their countries . . they described the nature and history of their homelands, their resources and assets, producing in the process works of scholarship as well as of literature" (Cambridge History of Latin America, Vol. 3, p. 39).   From New York Society Library with its cancelled stamp.  

(Cf. Sabin 49893.   De Backer-Sommervogel V, 1166. )



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