22 June 2010
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
MORE, Thomas (1478-1535). The Commonwealth of Utopia: Containing a Learned and Pleasant Discourse of the Best State of a Publike Weale, as it is Found in the Government of the New Ile Called Utopia. London: B Alsop & T. Fawcet, 1639.
12o (144 x 85 mm). Title within woodcut border, headpieces and initials (light browning and spotting). Contemporary vellum. Quarter morocco blue folding case (a few small holes and loose stitching toward foot). Provenance: John Dickinson (1732-1808) Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Deleware, delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention, President of Deleware and President of Pennsylvania (ink signature on title page); Maria D. Logan (d. 1860) John Dickinson's daughter (ink signature on lower cover).
Fifth edition in English of More's classic work bearing the ownership signature of John Dickinson, a statesman, and a political pamphleteer. More's most famous literary work, a description of an ideal commonwealth, was written in Latin in 1515-16 and first published in Louvain (1516). It was influenced by Plato's Republic, St. Augustine's De civitate Dei, Vespucci's accounts of the New World, and Erasmus's Institutio principis Christiani. Utopia "was written, like Gulliver's Travels, as a tract for the times, to rub in the lesson of Erasmus; it inveighs against the new statesmanship of all-powerful autocracy and the new economics of large enclosures and the destruction of the old common-field agriculture, just as it pleads for religious tolerance and universal education" (PMM). STC 18098.
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