Court de Gébelin’s Game of Tarots – A New Translation

Being fairly unhappy with the available English translations of Court de Gébelin’s Game of Tarots and Comte de Mellet’s Research on the Tarot, I set out to make my own translations. This turned out to be much more of a challenging undertaking than I anticipated. This, coupled with a lack of time I now have for research and writing, forced me to make a choice: either forget it completely or settle for an abbreviated version. I chose the latter.

This document contains only the sections of each essay which deal with the trumps. To me these are the most interesting parts and I hope they’ll serve others well.

For this translation I consulted three other English translations as well as the original French. I’ve tried to strike a balance between literalness and clarity; this isn’t always easy however. Where a literal interpretation makes no sense in English, I’ve tried to understand the ideas the author wanted to convey and render that as naturally as possible in English.

I’ve retained the formatting of the original and included the frequent use of the &. I did take certain liberties to better show how de Gébelin organized and grouped the trumps into categories. To do this I had to move some text around and created some new headings; nothing was removed. There are four images which don’t clearly fall into any category: the Fool, the Bateleur, the Chariot and the Lovers. In de Mellet’s essay I added headings to his descriptions to make it easier to tell where one ends and the next begins.

In the original, the plates containing the images of the trumps are at the very end of the volume. I used the original images but they’ve been cleaned up considerably and placed in line with the text.

Both de Gébelin and de Mellet used footnotes: I’ve identified them so as to distinguish them from my own, which are marked “Ed.” Wherever notes are seen within brackets [ ], these are mine; if they’re shown in ( ), they’re original.

I’ve proofed it several times and believe it’s in good shape; however, I apologize for any errors I may have missed.


The Game of Tarots / Research on the Tarot (6 MB PDF)