8°:  lithographed portrait, 157 pp. in French and Armenian, contemporary green half-calf binding with gilt lines and gilt embossed title on the spine, gilt fore-edge, old bookplate on the inner side of the front cover (Very Good, with very light foxing, leftovers of an old book plate on the inner side of the back cover, bindig slightly worn on edges).
This is a first rare Armenian translation of a tragedy Polyeucte, martyr arménien by Pierre Corneille (1606 – 1684), with a parallel original French text. The book includes a lithographed portrait of Corneille, title pages in French and Armenian and an introduction in Armenian. The drama in five acts, first preformed in 1643, is set in ancient Armenia under the Roman Empire, in time when Christians were persecuted. Polyeucte, an Armenian nobleman, converts to Christianity, and becomes a martyr.
This first Armenian translation of the book was printed in 1858 by the press of the Mekhitarists, a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church, on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice. The order was founded in Mkhitar Sebastatsi, in 1717, with a goal to nourish the Armenian culture, and mostly preserve the literature under the Ottoman Empire. In the same year, during the tensions between the Ottoman and Venetians, Venice gave an island San Lorenzo to the order, where they established their centre. In the next decades they translated and printed books, pamphlets, prints and maps in Armenian language, meant for export among Armenians around the world. The monastery also collected an important valuable library.
Another big Armenian centre was The Mekhitarist Monastery (Mechitaristenkirche), founded in 1810 in Vienna, Austria.
The book comes from a library of a French somposer Guy de Kervéguen (1857-1896)
We could only find three or four institutional copies (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Bibliothèque nationale de France with one or two copies, and University of California, Los Angeles).
References: Bibliographisches Centralorgan des Oesterreichischen Kaiserstaates, 1859, Year II, No. 1, p. 1; Émile PICOT, Bibliographie Cornélienne: ou, Description raisonnée de toutes les éditions, Paris 1976, p. 409, no. 1079