(Parmae: Ex Regio Typographeo, 1798). 311 x 235 mm. (12 1/4 x 9 1/4"). cxvi, 271 pp.
19th century green half morocco over marbled boards, raised bands, spines with gilt-ruled compartments, gilt titling, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. A Large Paper Copy. Brooks 724. Spine slightly sunned, joints and extremities a bit rubbed, marbled boards rather chafed, but the binding quite solid. Light freckled foxing to first and last gatherings, isolated marginal spots or smudges, one closed marginal tear, but a fine copy internally, clean, fresh, and bright, with smooth paper and vast margins.
This meditation on the vicissitudes of life is a very well-printed production by Giambattista Bodoni, with lovely typefaces, luxurious paper, and elegant design. Born at the time of the final collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, Boethius (ca. 480-524) rose to the rank of chief secretary of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, but was maligned, imprisoned, and executed. While in prison, Boethius wrote his "Consolation," in which Lady Philosophy appears to him and urges him to embrace a sublime indifference toward suffering and death. Called by Gibbon "a golden volume . . . which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and the situation of the author," it has had an enduring popularity, never more so than during the Middle Ages. Its contemplation of the profound perplexities of existence (e.g., the presence of evil in the face of a loving God, the notion of free will in the face of God's foreknowledge) make it a book with the deepest of teleological consequences for believers of any faith. Bodoni (1740-1813) worked for more than 20 years at the royal press in Parma before obtaining permission to set up his own private press in 1791. Brooks says that "he took his printing in all its branches very seriously, laboured incessantly to perfect his type, had a fine artistic sense, . . . and produced books not only of a very high standard, but also showing a remarkably distinct individuality." Bodoni used the finest quality paper available, and his clear beautiful types have been envied and copied for many generations. "The result of his labours is a long list of books which . . . reach a very high, many of them the highest, level of technical excellence." This is a relatively uncommon Bodoni imprint in the marketplace, with ABPC recording five other copies at auction in the past 40 years. (ST12697c)
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PJP Catalog: SE16BF.029