GODWIN, William (1756-1836). Mandeville. A Tale of the Seventeenth Century in England. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1817.
3 volumes, 12° (195 x 109mm). Half-titles. 2-leaf advertisement for popular novels by Longman at front of volume I. (Occasional light spotting.) Uncut in original paper-backed blue boards, paper spine labels, green morocco-backed slipcase. Provenance: Walcot (contemporary signature on front pastedowns of vols II-III) -- purchased from James F. Drake, New York, 1 March 1939, $50.
FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL BOARDS. Mandeville was an unexpected novel, coming from the philosopher who laid such stress on the role of reason. Written at the period when his stepdaughter, Fanny, hanged herself, and his daughter, Mary, and Shelley were married at St. Mildred's in Broad Street [27 December 1816], Godwin's novel was set in the civil war, with a poor plot but vivid characterisation turning on the unreasoning hatred of the sour and puritanical Mandeville for the pleasure-loving, charismatic and noble-blooded Clifford. 'Even more than in Caleb Williams, Godwin wields his metaphysical dissecting knife to lay bare the deepest involutions of motive and personality, taking us within his character to feel what he feels and hate what he hates. For all its faults, its verbosity and tedium, it is the relentless expression of this one dominating state of mind ... that makes Mandeville one of Godwin's most extraordinary works' (Don Locke A Fantasy of Reason, 1980, pp. 277-78). A fourth volume, entitled Mandeville: the Last Words of a Maniac, was completed by another writer called Arnold and issued by a different publisher. (3)