10 December 1999
LAGRANGE, Joseph Louis (1736-1813). Mchanique analitique. Paris: Philippe-Denis Pierres for la Veuve Desaint, 1788,
4o (257 x 198 mm). Half-title. (Faint marginal dampstaining in quire D.) Modern green morocco, turn-ins gilt, red edges; cloth folding case. Provenance: Bada (bookplate); Frederick William Cagle (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN MECHANICS. In the Mchanique analytique Lagrange brought together the results of his previous work in mechanics, published in scattered journal articles. Lagrange was the first to succeed in reducing the theory of mechanics to general algebraic formulas, thus unifying all the branches of mechanical science, i.e., statics and dynamics of both solids and fluids. He arrived at this "crowning achievement of all the efforts of the 17th and 18th centuries to construct a unified theory of mechanics" (En franais dans le texte) by treating the problem of the calculus of variation analytically, in contrast to the geometrical approach of his predecessors Euler and the Bernoullis. In his preface, Lagrange proudly pointed to the absence of diagrams in the work, rendered superfluous by the lucidity of his presentation. "The Trait united and presented from a single point of view the various principles of mechanics, demonstrated their connection and mutual dependence, and made it possible to judge their validity and scope" (DSB). Dibner Heralds of Science 112; En franais dans le texte 179; Grolier/Horblit 61; Norman 1257; Roberts & Trent, pp. 189-90; Sparrow, Milestones of Science 120.
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