First Edition of Milton's Most Influential Work

    John Milton. Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books. London: S. Simons, 1668.

    First edition, Amory's No. 2 issue (traditional fourth title). Small quarto (6.9375 x 5.125 inches; 176 x 130 mm). [344] pages.

    Full period style paneled calf, spine elaborately tooled in gilt in compartments, five raised bands, gilt red morocco lettering piece. Early ownership inscription to title, and a few instances of early annotation and underlining in light ink.

    Modern endpapers, and title page professionally restored to replace loss of several letters. Overall, a very good copy of this monumental work of English literature.

    John Dryden referred to Paradise Lost as "one of the greatest, most noble and sublime poems which either this age or nation has produced." Although the tremendously difficult circumstances under which Milton produced the work are legendary -- he had been blinded by long years of service as secretary under Cromwell and was in political disfavor after the restoration of Charles II -- the troubled printing history of the work is less well known. Publisher Samuel Simmons reluctantly agreed to print a small first edition of 1,300 copies, as he was assuming a heavy risk in sponsoring an epic poem, for which no precedent in English publishing had been established. As payment for the first edition, Milton received a total of ten pounds.

    Wing M-2139.

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    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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