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    "Masterpiece of Historical Penetration and Literary Style"

    Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. London: Printed for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1781-1788. Fourth edition of Volume I, first editions of the five remaining quarto volumes. Engraved portrait of Gibbon by Hall after Reynolds in Volume I. Three engraved folding maps. With the half titles in Volumes II through VI, and the called-for errata leaves in Volumes II, III, and VI (this last volume has the errata for the final three volumes); maps, and errata leaves as issued. The following issue points which are listed in Sterling and Rothschild, are noted here: Volume II has G1 as a cancel and L1 not cancelled. Volume III is an early state with the misprint "Honorious" on page 179 and with page 177 correctly numbered; Volume IV with H3, so signed and L2 signed as *L2. Contemporary brown calf, spines ruled in gilt with red and green gilt morocco lettering labels. Spines worn, joints cracking, some rubbing to panels, front free endpaper of Volume I is loose. Bookplates. Generally, a very good copy of the scarce first edition of the majority of the work.

    Gibbon's Decline and Fall brought to the subject a width of vision and a critical mastery of the available sources which have not been equalled to this day. "This masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style has remained one of the ageless historical works which, like the writings of Macaulay and Mommsen, maintain their hold upon the layman and continue to stimulate the scholar although they have been superseded in many, if not most, details by subsequent advance of research and changes in the climate of opinion. Whereas other eighteenth-century writers in this field, such as Voltaire, are still quoted with respect, the Decline and Fall is the only historical narrative prior to Macaulay which continues to be reprinted and actually read" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

    Grolier, 100 English, 58. Norton 20, 23, and 29. Printing and the Mind of Man 222. Rothschild 942-944. Sterling, Part I, 382.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2012
    8th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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