• Sale 2013

    Important Scientific Books: The Richard Green Library

    17 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 137

    GALILEI, Galileo. Dialogo... sopre i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano. Florence: Gian Battista Landini, 1632.

    Price Realised  

    GALILEI, Galileo. Dialogo... sopre i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano. Florence: Gian Battista Landini, 1632.

    4o (218 x 162 mm). Etched frontispiece by Stefano della Bella, italic type, shoulder notes in roman type, printer's woodcut device on title-page, 31 woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text, woodcut initials, type ornament head- and tail-pieces and factotum initials, errata leaf Ff6, manuscript addition of letter H to diagram on M8v (p.192), without the printed correction slip pasted in margin of F6v (p. 92). (N3 and N4 torn with old repair, some browning and light staining.) Contemporary Spanish vellum over pasteboard, spine ink lettered; leather backed folding case. Provenance: F.M.S.I.B.F. (early initials and marginalia to endpapers); M.A. Principis Burghesii (armorial bookplate).

    FIRST EDITION OF GALILEO'S CELEBRATED DEFENSE OF THE COPERNICAN VIEW OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM. Galileo's formal use of the dialogue allowed him to explore his Copernican theories fully within the rubric of the "equal and impartial discussion" required by Pope Urban VIII. The work "was designed both as an appeal to the great public and as an escape from silence... it is a masterly polemic for the new science. It displays all the great discoveries in the heavens which the ancients had ignored; it inveighs against the sterility, willfulness, and ignorance of those who defend their systems; it revels in the simplicity of Copernican thought and, above all, it teaches that the movement of the earth makes sense in philosophy, that is, in physics... The dialogo, more than any other work, made the heliocentric system a commonplace" (PMM). Pope Urban VIII was not so swayed, and immediately convened a special commission to examine the book and make recommendations. In casting the Pope as the simple-minded Aristotelian Simplicius, Galileo brought upon himself arrest, trial by the Inquisition and life imprisonment. The sentence was commuted to permanent house arrest, while the printing of any of his works was forbidden. The Dialogo remained on the index until 1832. Carli and Favaro, 128; Cinti 89; Dibner Heralds of Science 8; Grolier/Horblit 18c; Norman 858; PMM 128; Riccardi I:511; Wellcome 2647a.


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