Description

    Fletcher's "Elaborate Allegorical
    Description of the Human Body"

    Phineas Fletcher. The Purple Island Or The Isle Of Man: Together With Piscatorie Eclogs And Other Poeticall Miscellanies. Cambridge: [Thomas Buck & Roger Daniel] Printers to the University, 1633. First Edition. Two parts in one volume. Quarto. ¶4 (Lacks ¶1,blank, as Pforzheimer copy) ,¶¶4,A-Z4 (with Z4,blank),Π2 (Π1,blank),A-L4,M2,N2,O-R4. [14], 181; [5, blank], [2], 96, 101-130, [2] pages. Title page in red and black, Cambridge Press devices on both title pages. Contemporary calf, blind rules, rebacked, title gilt on label, edges red, old signature on inside of front cover, pages cockled, title page loose, paper loss in lower right corner of blank page facing second title page, edge stains to first and last leaf from leather turn-ins, no endpapers, else very good condition. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    More Information:

    "Fletcher's chief volume, The Purple Island or the Isle of Man, together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies by P. F., was printed by the printers to the University of Cambridge in 1633. The dedication to Benlowes is dated "Hilgay, 1 May 1633." There Fletcher describes the poems that follow as "these raw essayes of my very unripe yeares, and almost childehood," and says that Benlowes insisted on their publication. A commendatory preface by Daniel Featley, D.D., is succeeded by eulogistic verses by E. Benlowes, his brother William, Francis Quarles (two poems), Lodowick Roberts, and A. C., who has been identified with Cowley. The Piscatory Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies has a separate title-page. The seven "Eclogs" contain much autobiographical matter, but the names of the author's friends are disguised. Thelgon is the poet's father, Thyrsil himself, and Thomalin is John Tomkins. The "Miscellanies" include epithalamia in honour of the author's cousins, "Mr. W."and "M. R." (perhaps Walter and Margaret Robarts) of Brenchley, and poems addressed to Cambridge friends, the initials of whose names alone are given, together with metrical versions of the psalms. Members of the Courthope family are believed to be intended by "W. C." and "E. C."  Cole suggested that "E. C., my son by the university," was one Ezekiel Charke. A third title-page introduces another poem, "Elisa: an Elegie upon the unripe demise of Sr Antonie Irby." The lady had died in 1625, and at the time that the elegy was published the husband was on the point of marrying again. A poem by Quarles closes the volume...

    The Purple Island, in twelve cantos of seven-line stanzas, is an elaborate allegorical description of the human body and of the vices and virtues to which man is subject. There are many anatomical notes in prose. The body is represented as an island, of which the bones stand for the foundations, the veins for brooks, and so forth in minute detail. Fletcher imitates the Faery Queene. Quarles calls him "the Spencer of this age," and Fletcher eulogizes his master in canto vi. stanzas 51-2. But Fletcher's allegory is overloaded with detail, and as a whole is clumsy and intricate. His diction is, however, singularly rich, and his versification melodious. Incidental descriptions of rural scenes with which he was well acquainted are charmingly simple, and there is a majesty in his personifications of some vices and virtues which suggest Milton, who knew Fletcher's works well." -DNB   

    STC 11082. ESTC s102332. Hayward 67. Pforzheimer 376. Langland to Wither 101. Krivatsy/NLM 4121. Wellcome I,2312. Westwood & Sachell 95.


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
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