17 June 2008
HOBBES, Thomas (1588-1679). Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill. London: printed for Andrew Crooke, 1651.
2o (274 x 178 mm). Engraved frontispiece portrait of Hobbes by Faithorne added, engraved additional title, title with woodcut ornament of a head in a frame of scrolls and tassels, folding letterpress table. (Some browning and spotting.) Contemporary calf (rebacked to style). Provenance: R.Taylor (contemporary signature); Andrew Philips (inscription dated 14 February 1693/4); G.B.C. (purchase note, bought at the Armitage Hill Sale 29 December 1904, presumably of Sir Thomas Villiers Lister property (1832-1902); Jerome Hall (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, OF THE MOST IMPORTANT 17TH-CENTURY ENGLISH WORK OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, with the head ornament on the title-page. "The fundamental nature of his speculation has stimulated philosophers from Spinoza to the school of Bentham, who reinstated him in his position as the most original political philosopher of his time" (PMM). The celebrated frontispiece illustrates his view of the State as an aggregation of individual men submitting voluntarily to the absolute sway of the sovereign who is the "soul" of the "common-wealth." It was in a hypothetical state of nature, deprived of political organisation, that Hobbes memorably described human lives as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." He was in Paris when the edition was being printed, receiving "every week a sheet to correct." Macdonald & Hargreaves 42; Norman 1082; Pforzheimer 491; PMM 138; Wing H-2246.
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