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Boswell The Life Of Samuel Johnson 1791 2 Vol 4to 1st Ed 1st Issue Plates Gve Nr For Sale

Boswell The Life Of Samuel Johnson 1791 2 Vol 4to 1st Ed 1st Issue Plates Gve Nr

“WHEREVER ENGLISH IS SPOKEN, IT [BOSWELL’S ‘LIFE OF JOHNSON’] HAS BECOME A VERITABLE SACRED BOOK AND HAS PERVADED ENGLISH LIFE AND THOUGHT IN THE SAME WAY THAT THE BIBLE, SHAKESPEARE AND BUNYAN HAVE DONE.” – Seccombe, ‘The Age of Johnson.’

 

“TO WRITE THE LIFE OF HIM WHO EXCELLED ALL MANKIND IN WRITING THE LIVES OF OTHERS, AND WHO, WHETHER WE CONSIDER HIS EXTRAODINARY ENDOWMENTS, OR HIS VARIOUS WORKS, HAS BEEN EQUALLED BY FEW IN ANY AGE, IS AN ARDUOUS, AND MAY BE RECKONED IN ME A PRESUMPTUOUS TASK” –Boswell, the opening words of ‘The Life of Samuel Johnson.’

 

OFFERED WITH is AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE 1791 FIRST ISSUE (WITH ‘GVE’ ON PAGE 135) OF THE FIRST EDITION OF JAMES BOSWELL’S ‘THE LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON,’ one of the greatest written works in the English language, printed at London in two large quarto volumes by Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, adorned with the famous frontispiece portrait of Johnson, another plate depicting Johnson’s handwriting, and a third plate depicting the ‘Round Robin’ of various signatures, complete in all respects and bound in full 19th century English half-calf. PLEASE REVIEW THE PHOTOS BELOW IN ORDER TO ASCERTAIN MOST EFFECTIVELY THE VOLUME’S CONDITION.

 

BOSWELL’S ‘LIFE OF JOHNSON’ IS THE GREATEST OF ALL BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS IN ENGLISH AND ONE OF THE GREATEST WORKS OF PROSE IN ANY LANGUAGE. IT IS ALSO WITHOUT COMPARISON AS AN HISTORICAL SOURCE CONCERNING THE LITERARY WORLD OF 18TH CENTURY ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND.  

 

The full title reads as follows:

 

“The Life of Samuel Jophnson, LL.D. Comprehending An Account of his Studies and Numerous Works, in Chronological order; A Series of his Epistolary Correspondence and Conversations with many Eminent Persons: And Various Original Pieces of his Composition, Never Before Published. The Whole Exhibiting a View of Literature and Literary Men in Great-Britain, for near Half A Century, During which he Flourished. In Two Volumes. By James Boswell, Esq. / … Volume The First. [and Volume The Second.]. / London: / Printed by Henry Baldwin, / For Charles Dilly, in the Poultry. / M DCC XCI [1791].”

 

THIS SET IS PART OF THE RARE FIRST ISSUE OF THE FIRST EDITION. IT MAY BE IDENTIFIED AS SUCH BY THE PRESENCE OF ‘GVE’ RATHER THAN ‘GIVE’ IN THE SECOND LANE OF THE INSET QUOTATION ON PAGE 135.  

 

Befitting the greatness of the book, some of the greatest passages in English literary criticism concern Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: 

 

MacAulay: “Boswell is the first of biographers. He has no second. He has distanced all his competitors so decidedly that it is not worth while to place them.” … “It is assuredly a great, very great work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic Poets,--Shakespeare is not more decidedly the first of Dramatists,--Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of Orators, than Boswell is the first of Biographers”

 

MacAulay on Boswell: “Without all the qualities which made him the jest and the torment of those among whom he lived, without the officiousness, the inquisitiveness, the effrontery, the toad-eating, the insensitivity to all reproof, he could never have produced so excellent a book. He was a slave, proud of his servitude, a Paul Pry, convinced that his own curiosity and garrulity were virtues, an unsafe companion who never scrupled to repay the most liberal hospitality by the basest violation of confidence, a man without delicacy, without shame, without sense enough to know when he was hurting the feelings of others or when he was exposing himself to derision; and because he was all this, he has, in an important department of literature, immeasurably surpassed such writers as Tacitus, Clarendon, Alfieri, and his own idol Johnson.”

 

MacAulay on Johnson and what Johnson owed to Boswell: “What a singular destiny has been that of this remarkable man! To be regarded in his own age as a classic, and in ours as a companion. To receive from his contemporaries that full homage which men of genius have in general received only from posterity! To be more intimately known to posterity than other men are known to their contemporaries! That kind of fame which is commonly the most transient is, in his case, the most durable. The reputation of those writings, which he probably expected to be immortal, is every day fading; while those peculiarities of manner and that careless table-talk the memory of which, he probably thought, would die with him, are likely to be remembered as long as the English language is spoken in any quarter of the globe....”

 

Carlyle on Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: “Consider too, with what force, diligence and vivacity he has rendered back all this which in Johnson's neighbourhood, his "open sense" had so eagerly and freely taken in. That loose-flowing, careless-looking Work of his is as a picture by one of Nature's own Artists; the best possible resemblance of a Reality; like the very image thereof in a clear mirror. Which indeed it was: let but the mirror be clear, this the great point; the picture must and will be genuine. How the babbling Bozzy, inspired only by love, and the recognition and vision which love can lend, epitomises nightly the words of Wisdom, the deeds and aspects of Wisdom, and so, by little and little, unconsciously works together for us a whole Johnsoniad; a more free, perfect, sunlit and spirit-speaking likeness than for many centuries had been drawn by man of man!”

 

THE VOLUME HAS BEEN COLLATED AND IS COMPLETE IN ALL RESPECTS. It is paginated as follows: Vol. I: viii, [16], ix-xii [the advertisement being bound after the errata], 516; vol. II: [2], 588 [ie. 586]. To this pagination must be added the frontispiece portrait, the ‘Round Robin’ plate and the plate of Johnson’s handwriting. Each volume measures about 28 cm by 22 cm by 4 cm; each leaf measures about 273 mm by 212 mm.

 

The volume is in very good to excellent condition internally, with generally clean pages, ample margins, and clear print throughout. The three plates are excellent impressions. The titles and final leaves in volumes 1 and 2, as well as the frontispiece, show minor foxing (as may be seen in the photos below). Generally, though, this is an appealing set.

 

The two volumes are bound in full 19th century English half-calf. The bindings are in excellent condition, with strong hinges and strong book-blocks. They show only minor wear at the edges and corners.

 

In all, this is AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE 1791 FIRST ISSUE (WITH ‘GVE’ ON PAGE 135) OF THE FIRST EDITION OF JAMES BOSWELL’S ‘THE LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON,’ one of the greatest written works in the English language, printed at London in two large quarto volumes by Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, adorned with the famous frontispiece portrait of Johnson, another plate depicting Johnson’s handwriting, and a third plate depicting the ‘Round Robin’ of various signatures, complete in all respects, bound in full 19th century English half-calf, and OFFERED WITH .

     

 

Please take the time necessary to review the photos below in order to gain a better understanding of the content and condition of the volume. Please also take a moment to view my other sales of rare and desirable English and Continental printed books dating from the 15th through the 19th century.

We are located in Ottawa Canada. As such, for international and U.S. customers we are able to ship out of a close Fed Ex and USPS outlet just across the border in the United States. We ship every Tuesday, weather permitting. For our Canadian customers we generally can ship using Canada Post or Fed Ex priority within 2 days after payment. 

All books are tracked. No shipping is charged for books sold when the reserve is met. For books sold without reserve the shipping amount is charged as follows:

For customers outside North America we ship using  USPS Priority International. This has proven to be a secure way to ensure delivery to most international locations within 10 days from the mailing date. Most books are shipped using Priority flat rate boxes. Oversized  boxes for sets and large folios are calculated using online USPS tools. We charge the USPS rate plus $4.00 per box for sales. Of course, it is also entirely possible to arrange shipment by FedEx Priority, immediately following payment , if such a service is desired.

For customers within the U.S. we ship Fed Ex ground. Prices are generally reasonable and usually the item arrives within 5 days from the shipping date. Again we can ship using a faster method, from Canada.

For customers in Canada we ship through Canada Post Expedited, every other day, which usually means 5 – 7 days for the book to arrive.  As well we can ship faster, if desired.

                                                                                                       


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Boswell The Life Of Samuel Johnson 1791 2 Vol 4to 1st Ed 1st Issue Plates Gve Nr

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