Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime

Edmund BURKE

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"AT CERTAIN DISTANCES, DANGER AND PAIN ARE DELIGHTFUL": RARE FIRST EDITION OF BURKE'S INFLUENTIAL TREATISE ON THE SUBLIME, IGNITING BRITISH ROMANTICISM AND HIS LATER WORK ON REVOLUTION

(BURKE, Edmund). A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1757. Octavo, contemporary full brown tree calf, marbled endpapers, red morocco spine label. Housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase.

First edition of Edmund Burke's influential work on "themes that dominated Burke's thinking," a touchstone in the development of British Romanticism and the theoretical foundation for his celebrated 1790 work, Reflections on the Revolution in France, an early association copy with the owner signature on the half title of American physician and historian Dr. Franklin James Didier, very scarce in contemporary tree calf.

Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry "might well be said to signalize the point at which aesthetic taste in England changed from the classical formalism of the earlier years of the 18th century to the romanticism of the later years" (Encyclopedia of Philosophy I, 430). One of the single greatest influences on British Romanticism and the rise of the Gothic, Burke's landmark essay propelled by debates surrounding a 17th-century translation of the classical essay "On the Sublime." His analysis of pleasure and fear became the first to carefully explore "the imaginative power of the unbounded and infinite, and the unstated and unknown" (Blackburn, 52). The Philosophical Enquiry much "anticipates the themes that dominate Burke's political thinking throughout his career" (Yolton I, 144). Influential thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft saw that Burke's most celebrated work, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), "was largely based on aesthetic positions he developed 30 years earlier in On the Sublime and the Beautiful… Wollstonecraft saw that Burke was appealing in politics to the same kind of refined taste by which he claimed we ultimately perceive the beautiful in art or nature" (Shiner, The Invention of Art, 163). This first edition, issued anonymously, was "a rather small edition, possibly like the Vindication limited to 500 copies." First issue first state with the corrected "SECT. VI" on page 179, "SECT. VII" on page 180: both corrected late in the printing. No priority established as "most copies exhibit one mixture [of formes] or another" and none exist in a completely uncorrected state (Todd 5a). ESTC T42248. See Lowndes, 316. This association copy contains the contemporary owner signature of American physician, author and historian, Dr. Franklin James Didier, who was highly regarded for his work on Benjamin Franklin and an 1831 article in which he predicted the Civil War, "saying that the contention about slavery would be the cause of it" (Rutherford, South in History, 688). Later owner inkstamp on the same page of Simon Bernei.

Interior very fresh with faintest soiling, expert repairs to joints, corners and spine ends of attractive contemporary tree calf. A very elusive near-fine copy.

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