One of Just 18 Copies on Japon


(London: David Nutt, 1892). 221 x 155 mm. (8 3/4 x 6"). Three volumes. Translated by John Florio. Edited by George Saintsbury. No. 7 OF 18 COPIES printed on Japon, 12 of which were for sale.

Pleasing quarter red morocco over buff buckram by Sangorski & Sutcliffe (stamp-signed in ink on verso of front free endpaper), raised bands, gilt titling, top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Title pages with vignette, numerous decorative initials, printer's device on final leaf of each volume. Titles printed in red and black. Top corners of volume III a bit bumped, contents with a handful of trivial imperfections, but A VERY FINE SET, clean, fresh, and bright in bindings with few signs of wear.

This attractive, strictly limited set contains probably the best-known English version of Montaigne's influential "Essays," universally read and praised as one of the great books of the author's time and one of the major explorations from any period of human nature through self-examination. Just as Petrarch's essays and letters set before the eyes of the world a portrait of the 14th century humanist scholar, so Montaigne's "Essays" give us the 16th century paradigm of the humanist, living quietly at his chateau, yet active and interested in public policy, reading and meditating on Plutarch's "Lives," and philosophizing on all and everything. His essays were influential in molding opinion and taste throughout Europe. The topics range from the frivolous (for example, Montaigne's argument, based on reports of the discovery of naked savages, that dress is superfluous) to the profound, as in his famous defense of Raymond Sebond, which argues for a dispassionate tolerance in religious controversy. Books I and II of the essays were originally published in 1580, while Book III appeared in 1588 and shows the broadening influence of Montaigne's travels in Germany and Italy. Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) spoke Latin rather than French as his first language, due to the educational theories of his father. He served in the parlement of Bordeaux from 1557-70 and as mayor of the city from 1581-85. The tolerance, moderation, and rationalism that breathe from his essays gave them great appeal for the English in the time of James I and, through Florio's translation, they inspired some of Shakespeare's philosophical digressions. Born in England of an Italian family, John Florio (1553?-1625) taught romance languages to students who included Queen Anne, wife of James I. In addition to his celebrated translation of Montaigne, Florio is well known for his Italian-English dictionary, published in 1598. Florio's Montaigne was first published in 1603; our edition uses the text of the second printing of 1613. Editor George E. B. Saintsbury (1845-1933) was a distinguished literary critic and historian, who wrote several histories and studies of lasting value on English and European Literature. This very appealing set stands apart from other modern editions because of its luxurious untrimmed paper, its strict limitation, and its attractive printing.

Add to Cart Price: $950.00

PJP Catalog: ABAAvfMay20.042


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