Extensive, scholarly, and with Imeretian dialect

BROSSET, Marie-Félicité (Jeune)

Eléments de la langue géorgienne

Publication: Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1837.

BROSSET, Marie-Félicité (Jeune), Eléments de la langue géorgienne

Very attractive copy of this significant grammar of the Georgian language, the third such grammar to appear in the West. First edition, complete with its two folding plates, finely produced by the French State press. Uncommon.

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First edition of this important Georgian grammar – a lovely example, uncut in the original blue wrappers, complete with two folding plates.

The French orientalist Marie-Félicité Brosset (1802-80) “laid the foundation of Georgian (and Armenian) philology. […] Brosset had practical command of both Georgian and Armenian and contributed to the spread of the knowledge of these cultures in Western Europe in the fields of both philology and history” (Hewitt). When in France, he faced a shortage of materials on the Georgian language and obtained permission from the French government to continue his exploration in Georgia and Russia where he arrived in 1837. He obtained an assistant professorship for Armenian and Georgian literature at the Imperial Academy of Saint Petersburg, notably publishing there in 1849 a history of Georgia entirely in Georgian. Brosset also became State Councillor and Curator of Oriental Coins at the Hermitage.

In 1835, the Société Asiatique commissioned Brosset to finish up the Georgian grammar by the German linguist and ethnographer Julius Klaproth (1783-1835) who had just died. Klaproth intended to base “his work on the seventeenth-century list of 3,084 entries published in 1629 in Rome by the missionaries Stefano Paolini and Niceforo Irbach” (Hewitt). However since Brosset had a better command of the language and had other philological views, he changed the plan of the work, and the already typed part by Klaproth was supplied with his own comments and a list of corrected errors. The resulting Éléments de la langue géorgienne was published two years later and became “the third Georgian language manual published in the West” (Iodko). At the time, the work was a real tour de force, given the growing interest in the Caucasus and almost total absence of Georgian speakers in the West.

The Éléments can be considered as a much more advanced and multisided continuation of Brosset’s earlier work, L’art libéral ou Grammaire géorgienne, published as a manuscript lithographically in Paris in 1834. The present work starts with a long “Tableau raisonné de la littérature georgienne” structured in thematic sections with the author’s comments, including a list of works and magazine articles on Georgia, “aux personnes qui penseraient que les ressources sont peu abondantes pour l’étude de la langue géorgienne, ou que cette littérature n’est pas assez riche pour payer leurs efforts” (Brosset). The lower wrapper actually lists four available works about Georgian literature and language, including Klaproth’s Vocabulaire and three works by Brosset.

The following section gives attention both to the literary alphabet, “ecclesiastique”, mainly present in religious texts, and to the so-called “vulgaire” for everyday communications. Each part of speech is thoroughly explained and presented in useful vocabulary units, even including one for interjections, in which readers can learn how to say “ew”, “Oh! Oh! Oh!”, or to call a cat, dog and chicken among others. At the end of his work Brosset includes a series of reading exercises with literal and proper translations of general and idiomatic expressions and different types of alphabets, dialects and styles of writing. Two folding plates display two Georgian alphabets and a list of abbreviations.

This edition was reprinted in 1974 by Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück.


George Hewitt, “The Russian Imperial Academy and Western Transcaucasia (late-eighteenth century to the 1850s)”, material from the conference Research and Identity: non-Russian Peoples in the Russian Empire, 1800-1855, Kymenlaakso Summer University (Finland), June 2006; Iodko O. V., “Akademiku Mari-Felisite Brosse 190 let” // Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie: Almanakh, Vyp. 5, 1994, pp. 451-484.

Item number



Physical Description

Large 8vo (24 x 16 cm). Half-title, title, LVI and 365 pp., erratum leaf, with two folding plates.


Partly unopened in original publisher’s blue printed wrappers.


Wrappers minimally rubbed or soiled, lower cover a tiny bit more worn; crisp internally, with only minor occasional foxing, a handful of leaves almost loose or detached.

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