At the time not a lot was available in English: all I could find was two parts of the book by "Julia Orsini," both in the Little White Book (LWB) that went with Dusserre's reprint of the Grand Etteilla III, and the excerpts from Etteilla and D'Odoucet that Papus presented in Le Tarot Divinatoire, as translated by Stockman. That wasn't much.
I noticed that a copy of the whole "Orsini" book in French was at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, so I xeroxed it there while on vacation. The biggest section missing from the Dusserre was its "Dictionary of Synonyms and Related Meanings." So I translated it, combined it with a similar dictionary in Papus, reputedly from D'Odoucet, and posted the result on Aeclectic and in a couple of online blogs of mine. I also translated the Third Cahier, which "Corodil" had put on Aeclectic in French, and as much as seemed useful from the Second Cahier, of which I obtained scans. This was in 2012.
I also accumulated scans of a lot of Etteilla's other works, as well as the first volume of d'Odoucet's Science of Signs, 1804, and LeMarchand's LWB. They were not very hard to read, but it was hard to pick out what was of interest to me from what was not. Meanwhile, my translation efforts shifted to Italian. Recently, however, I read Nitz's translation of Hisler's German translation of Etteilla's Cours Theorique et Pratique du Livre de Thot, and I found that by reading it along with Etteilla's original I could extract some of what was of interest to me.
In hopes that other translations into English, however good or bad they might be, might help me understand Etteilla better, I bought the book that is the topic of this post The Grand Etteilla, by Julia Orsini, Mlle. Lemarchand & M. M. d'Odoucet, translated and edited by Marius Høgnesen, revised edition, Sept. 2022 (originally Sept. 2021). It presents a full translation of Orsini, including its "Dictionnaire Synonymique," and d'Odoucet's and Lemarchand's explications of the cards. It also indicates the differences between D'Odoucet's lists, based on vol. 2 of his Science of Signs, and Orsini's, and has some additional "synonyms" by modern writers and additional spreads using Etteilla's cards.
So here are my preliminary notes on the historical part of the book, starting with the "Orsini." I will try to restrict my comments to what would be of interest to the general reader, as opposed to a specialist, although with regard to the soundness of his own comments on the text, I will be less restrained.
Høgnesen says that the Orsini is a "booklet" that came out "from around 1840." (The one I copied is 212 pages, 7 inches high and 4 1/4 inches wide, so a large booklet.) It is important to note that the various editions differ. He says that his copy is "from the 1440s." Whenever it was done, it corresponds to an edition of ca. 1850, most probably 1853, the date Papus gave in his bibliography to Tarot des Bohemiens). "Tarot John" uploaded it onto archive.org for us. The engraving of "Etteilla" with the king of hearts card behind him in Høgnesen's book is the same as what we see on archive.org.
It is clearly not the original version (ca. 1838, actually), because an ad for the Prophecies of Nostadamus says he predicted among other things "the Revolution, the death of Louis XVI, that of Marie Antoinette, the accession of Napoleon, 1830, 1848, etc. etc." If the veracity of predictions are shown by the events of 1848, they must have already happened. The 1853 book also refers to the factory of Z. Lismon for purchasing the deck. There is no such reference in the 1838, and there surely would have been if it had existed.
There are differences between the 1838 version and that of 1853, at least in the introduction. The 1853 adds several paragraphs, while omitting an interesting paragraph of the 1838 in which the writer gives the name of the author - not Julia Orsini, but a man named "Scluqbole," an obvious anagram for "Blocquel," the publisher (for more on this, I have a post in another thread - just search "Scluqbole").
The version in Dusserre's LWB often has wording that differs from both the others, although without changing the content that I can see. Fortunately the text being translated is that in archive.org, so that it is readily available to compare with the English.
In the translation, there are a few things to get used to. First, he translates the French tarot suit of "bâtons" incorrectly. He says "clubs," which is not the English name of a tarot suit, but rather of a suit in regular cards, that called "trèfles" in French. Standard historical works in English, such as Wicked Pack of Cards, translate "bâton" as "baton." Cartomantic works (including the Dusserre) translate it as "wand." Take your pick. Anything but "clubs," which in fact corresponds to the French suit of "trefles," literally "clover." Later in the book, when it comes to Blocquel's descriptions of individual cards, we see "bâtons ou carreaux" translated as "clubs or diamonds," meaning "clubs" as the name of the tarot suit. Not the best choice.
Then when it comes to translating the French "trèfle," he can't very well use the English term "club," since he has already used that word for something else; he chooses the literal translation "clover," which of course is not what that suit is called in English (it is called "clubs"). So he translates "deniers ou trèfles" as "coins or clover." Well, it is confusing, especially since one might have imagined that diamonds in ordinary suits corresponded to coins in tarot, and clubs in ordinary suits to batons in tarot suits. It isn't so in cartomancy.
There is also the word "lame," which he sometimes translates as "card," when it means "plate" as in "gold plate." Etteilla's "Fire Temple," of which the translator gives Etteilla's diagram, lays out these plates, not the cards said in the translation. There is also the term "amateur," which in this context corresponds to the English "enthusiast" or "devotee," rather than "amateur." "Force Majeur," which is left untranslated, needs an explanation. Finally, although this is rather trivial, I notice him leaving the apostrophe off of possessives.
In the introduction (p. 11), where Etteilla mentions Gringonneur as the artist who painted tarot cards for the entertainment of Charles VI, Høgnesen adds a footnote explaining that Grigonneur was "the creator of the Charles VI tarots." This is both gratuitous (since it is what Etteilla says in the same sentence) and wrong. If anything is sure in tarot history, it is that Gringonneur did not paint those cards; they are not even French.
Still in the introduction, in the paragraph in 1853 (pp. 6-7 of that work) that Blocquel substituted for the one in 1838 promoting himself as "Scluqbole," there is a sentence that Høgnesen renders as "This Etteilla, . . . was he a mind-wanderer or simply a cartomancer, or was he both?" ( Cet Etteilla, . . ., etait-il un esprit-agare, simplement un cartomancer, ou n'etait-il pas l'un ou l'autre?) The meaning is actually ".. . was he a lost soul, a simple cartomancer, or not the one or the other?" The third choice is that he is neither of the first two.
What follows is Etteilla's somewhat embellished quote from de Gebelin. The French editions uniformly set off the quotation (in part a misquote) from Gebelin in italics and quotation marks, one on each line in fact. I would have thought that at least a quotation mark at the beginning of each paragraph and at the end would have been in order, to make it clear that what we are reading is meant to be a quotation, and where it stops, since it goes on for several paragraphs. A translator's note explaining where the "quote" differs from what Gebelin actually wrote would be in order here. (For example, Gebelin did not specify precisely the number of years since the Egyptians invented the game. That nonsense is Blocquel's addition.)
In his footnote about Etteilla's "seven principles of the Philosophy of Hermes," said to be on p. 240 of the manuscript, the translator enumerates what they are. It would have been good to say where he found these seven principles; I have not seen them, or anything like them, in Etteilla. Is it in something unpublished?
In the section on how to lay out the cards, one of the points Blocquel is emphasizing is that the procedure is slightly different depending on whether the enquirer is male or female. The text (p. 46 of the 1853, top line) is clear that it is a "questionante" who is inquiring, i.e. a woman or girl. For that reason card 8 is taken out and placed first. Had it been for a man, it would have been card 1. However, the word "questionante" is translated "querent" without specifying the gender, thus losing the point of the example. The Dusserre translation makes the same mistake, but corrects it in the accompanying diagram; Høgnesen does not. However, he does correct it elsewhere, so the reader can figure it out if he or she remembers.
The translation is rather awkward in these introductory sections, but after that it improves considerably. Hopefully, he has been reading the Dusserre translation, which he cites (identifying it as a version in the Bibliotheque Nationale), which is very good. But some of his departures from it are wrong. For example, for card 28 he translates "partie de la campagne" (party in the countryside) first as "countryside" and second as "house party" (Dusserre has "party in the countryside" both times). That the party is in the countryside is important in understanding where Etteilla is coming from - the suit of batons in general pertains to the countryside, as he observes elsewhere and D'Odoucet repeats in a selection included in this translation. Of this party, the text goes on to say, if next to a card in coins it "lui causera de l'ennui," will cause him boredom, not "will be uneventful." This is just one example. Before drawing any conclusions from this translation, you have to be sure to examine the French carefully. Nonetheless, it is helpful, to one who thinks in English, for grasping the general meaning.
In the synonyms section, his translations of the individual words are generally well-chosen, and more reliable than Nitz's. On the whole they agree with my own choices. Well, they are mostly the obvious ones. He also seems to have used the same system of bold, italics, and regular print that I used to indicate commonalities and differences among lists (although his distinctions are a little different). I don't know if he read my translations, but it is fine if he did. He did read "Tarot John's" posts on the identification of the people in the medallions on some of the cards, because he cites him and our forum and incorporates the information as translator's footnotes.
He does make an occasional mistake in translating synonyms; my limited sampling gives about one per list. The ones that don't quite fit should be checked against the French. You don't need to know French for this, since it is just words, most of which are in online dictionaries. Since he seems to have used d'Odoucet's lists as his primary source (rather than the "Orsini" itself), some errors come in because he did not notice that d'Odoucet has a list of errata at the back of his book. Card 28 has examples of both types of error: "metarie" is not "hall," but "tenant farm" (as Nitz recognizes) - again, a reference to the countryside. And one of the reversed meanings is not "editing," translating the French "montage" in d'Odoucet, but rather "mountain," translating "montagne," as indicated in the errata and in the other two lists. It is still about the countryside. I may make a list of what I think are clear errors, as opposed to judgment calls, but not in this post.
Høgnesen says in a footnote that "it is obvious that the synonyms in the original Orsini booklet were copied from d'Odoucet, however many were also left out." That is a view I have opposed on this Forum. The problem is that there is also the list by de la Salette, which is very similar to D'Odoucet's except for adding a few words here and there and omitting others. Besides leaving out words from d'Odoucet, "Orsini" adds words, most of them precisely ones that are found in de la Salette. So it is clear, if not obvious, that "Orsini" used de la Salette's lists. Not only that, but where de la Salette has a different keyword as upright than d'Odoucet, Blocquel goes for de la Salette ("Chute" vs. "Naissance" in card 35). On the other hand, Blocquel also includes words found on d'Odoucet's lists and not de la Salette's. Blocquel seems to have used both.
There is also a problem about the keywords that head up each list, one for Uprights and one for Reverseds in each of the 78 cards. Blocquel's are not always the same as those on the Grand Etteilla I and in d'Odoucet and de la Salette. That fact should be made clear. "Partie de Campagne" is Blocquel's keyword, which appears on the Etteilla II and III cards and the "Orsini" book's list of synonyms; it was also Etteilla's keyword in the 3rd Cahier. Another example is card "Usury" in the "Orsini" and Grand Etteilla II and III, but "More" (Plus) in the Grand Etteilla I, d'Odoucet, and de la Salette.
It would have been a great help if the translator had said, in the "synonyms" section, what card was being referred to, other than by number, even if Blocquel (my fingers want to type "Blockhead") didn't, e.g. besides "28. COUNTRYSIDE" (or 28. PARTIE DE CAMPAGNE, if translating Orsini), he had put, on the same line "[8 of Batons or Diamonds]" (but of course not his "Clubs or Diamonds").
At the end of the book he gives some additional spreads from various sources, as well as a translation of a passage in d'Odoucet's Science of Signs. He doesn't distinguish among the three volumes of that work, but the passage is from vol. 1, pp. viij (i.e. viii) - xjv (i.e. xiv), in the edition on archive.org, published in 1804. The rest of his excerpts are from vol. 2, published in 1806.
In the first page of this translation from vol. 1, there is a curious sentence that I cannot help quoting.
The French is at https://archive.org/details/b22018529_0 ... 5/mode/2up. The sentence begins, "The first Mages of Egypt, being united under the number seventeen. . ." Then there is nothing about any orbit; it is just "under Mercury, 3rd of that name." D'Odoucet is talking about a ruler or chief mage named Mercury, i.e. Hermes, the third of that name in a succession of sages, who brought together 17 sages in the year 171 after the deluge, or rather, the greatest of the floods ("la plus grande inondation"). The succession of Mercuries is something Etteilla had talked about in the 2nd Cahier and elsewhere. And he endorses Plato's view in the Timaeus, that there had been many floods. In constructing this book, D'Odoucet continues, they only put in philosophical and scientific truths that one could not dismiss as doubtful.The first Mage of Egypt united in the number seventeen under Mercury's 3rd orbit, in the year 171 of the deluge or the great flood, only put in this book philosophical and scientific truths, that is certain.
Then the first sentence of the translation's next paragraph begins, referring to the seventh day of creation, "I devised this rest . . . " as though that day had been d'Odoucet's invention, or God is speaking. Actually, what he is saying is, "I conceptualize this rest . . ." or "I make understandable this rest . . "(fais concevoir). This meaning becomes clear in the next paragraph, which begins, "I explain . . ."
What I bought the book for was the translation of d'Odoucet. His comments on the individual cards are indeed interesting, in that they sometimes relate them to Etteilla's numerology, or at least his version of it. Unfortunately, the book omits those parts of the book where d'Odoucet discusses numerology. Høgnesen does give a brief quarter-page summary (p. 35) that he claims is Etteilla's, without saying where he got it from; much of it does not fit what I have gleaned from the Cahiers and the Cours Theorique (see my last two posts in the "Cours Theorique" thread for my documentation of Etteilla's numerology). So while this translation has confirmed my hunch about d'Odoucet and saved me some work, namely a precise translation of 78 half-pages of text, a lot is left for me to do, in order to understand d'Odoucet's application of Etteilla's numerology.
I also bought the same translator's translation of Etteilla's first book, on divination with the piquet deck. On first reading, most of it is as incomprehensible to me as it was in French. Høgnesen does give a few explanatory footnotes toward the end, on points that to me were clear enough already. But for the most part he understandably offers no help. The effort is a brave one. Perhaps I will try reading it again sometime.