February 2022 Catalogue

First Edition Of Boswell’s Life Of Johnson, 1791 7. BOSWELL, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. London, 1791. Two volumes. Quarto, period-style full tree calf gilt. $12,000. Click for more info First edition, first state, of “the most famous biography in any language, one of Western literature’s most germinal achievements.” “The Shakespeare of biographers” (Macaulay), James Boswell “excelled in insight into human nature and in ability to dramatize a situation. For such purposes [Dr. Samuel] Johnson was God’s plenty… Completeness of portrayal was certainly Boswell’s aim—and his accomplishment” (Baugh, et al., 106566). “If there had been no Boswell, Johnson would have been one of the most famous names in English literature; but that he has become a household name… is due to the chance that brought Boswell into his company… The fascination of their dialogue, that dialogue of mind, heart and voice round which Boswell organized his great Life, is that it is not merely between two very different men but between two epochs. In its pages, Romantic Europe speaks to Renaissance Europe, and is answered” (Wain, 229). “Sales exceeded all expectations. Of a total of 1750 sets printed, 800 were sold in the first two weeks, 1200 by the end of August, 1400 by December and 1600 by August 1792… Boswell’s Life of Johnson remains the most famous biography in any language, one of Western literature’s most germinal achievements” (DNB). Volume I is first state, with “gve” uncorrected on page 135, line 10 (a change made before publication). Cancels present at Volume I, leaf [2M4] (pages 271-72); Volume II, [E3] (pages 29-30), [2O4] (pages 287-88), [2Q3] (pages 301-02), [2Z1] (pages 353-54) and [3E2] (pages 395-96). Vol. II without blank A1, as often. With engraved frontispiece portrait of Johnson by James Heath after Sir Joshua Reynolds in Volume I and two engraved plates in Volume II. With the table of contents bound in Volume I, as often. Rothschild 463. Grolier 100. Interior quite clean, much nicer than often seen, beautifully rebound to period-style. “He who has provoked the lash of wit, cannot complain that he smarts from it.” February 2022 – 9 – Bauman Rare Books