“What I like is a great author in noble type–the Baskerville ‘Virgil,’ for example, where the soft type is so appropriate to the Roman’s divine grace and elegance; or the Tonson ‘Lucretius,’ whose vivid black letters are just as suitable to the Epicurean poet’s stalwart verse, rugged from very strength.” -English poet Mortimer Collins
THE MAGNIFICENT FIRST TONSON EDITION OF LUCRETIUS’S CLASSIC; COMPLETE WITH SEVEN FULL-PAGE ENGRAVINGS (ONE A LARGE FOLD-OUT).
“Lucretius' literary influence has been long-lasting and widespread, especially among poets with epic ambitions or cosmological interests, from Virgil and Milton to Whitman and Wordsworth. Not surprisingly, as one of the main proponents and principal sources of Epicurean thought, his philosophical influence has also been considerable...
“It is probably an exaggeration to say that the restoration and study of Lucretius' poem was crucial to the rise of Renaissance ‘new philosophy’ and the birth of modern science. On the other hand, one must not ignore its importance as a spur to innovative sixteenth- and seventeenth-century scientific thought and cosmological speculation. Greek atomism and Lucretius' account of the universe as an infinite, lawfully integrated whole provided an important background stimulus not only for Newtonian science, but also (if only in a negative or contrary way) for Spinoza's pantheism and Leibniz’s monadology...
“[F]ar from being a mere conduit for earlier Greek thought, the poet Titus Lucretius Carus was a bold innovator and original thinker who fully deserves the appellation of philosopher. While his literary fame clearly (and properly) comes first, and although his philosophical reputation is based largely (and again properly) on his role as one of the principle sources and prime exponents of Epicureanism, his own ideas, especially his evolutionary theories and his entirely naturalistic explanation of all universal phenomena, have exerted a long and important influence on western science and philosophy and should not be underestimated.” (David Simpson, DePaul University, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
On this edition: Jacob Tonson (and his family) was one of London’s most successful bookseller-publishers in the late 17th to early 18th centuries. In addition to gaining fame as a publisher of the works of John Dryden and John Milton, Tonson was known for producing luxurious editions – characterized by exquisite typefaces and superb illustrations – of the Greek and Roman classics.
Of special note in Tonson’s Lucretius – and a sign of the changing times – is the inclusion of the first-ever illustration of Book 5, focusing on a scene of Epicurean pleasure outlined at the end of the book. (Norbrook et al., Lucretius and the Early Modern).
Provenance: With the handsome engraved bookplate of the “Earl of Roden, K.St.P” and shelving notes on the front pastedown.
London: Jacob Tonson, 1712. Quarto (226x284 mm), contemporary full calf, gilt-decorated spine with red leather label, gilt-ruled boards. Complete with engraved frontispiece and six full-page engraved plates (one a fold-out) and engraved initials and head- and tail-pieces. Joints split but holding secure, some rubbing to spine and scuffing to boards. Text with occasional mild uniform toning, but generally very clean with wide margins.
A HANDSOME COPY OF TONSON’S CELBRATED EDITION OF LUCRETIUS’S MONUMENTAL WORK.
Price: $3,900 .