URRY'S SPLENDID 1721 ILLUSTRATED FOLIO EDITION OF CHAUCER, WITH THREE PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED TALES, IN CONTEMPORARY CALF BOARDS
CHAUCER, Geoffrey (URRY, John, editor). The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Compared with the Former Editions, and many valuable MSS by John Urry. London: Bernard Lintot, 1721. Folio (10-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches), contemporary full tan speckled calf rebacked with remnants of original spine neatly laid down, raised bands, renewed morocco spine label. $5200.
First edition of Urry's folio edition of Chaucer's works, the first collected Chaucer in the easier-to-read Roman typeface, with three previously unpublished tales, beautifully illustrated with fine copper-engraved portraits, one of Chaucer by Vertue and one of Urry by Pigue, as well as a handsome title page vignette and numerous in-text copper engravings of the various Canterbury pilgrims. A handsome copy.
"Except for Shakespeare, Chaucer is foremost among writers in the English language" (Bloom, The Western Canon, 105). While this edition is commonly referred to as Urry's, he died before he could complete the work. His successor Thomas Ainsworth also died before the work was ready for the press, and it was revised by Timothy and William Thomas. "This was the first collected edition of Chaucer to be printed in roman type. The life of Chaucer prefixed to the volume was the work of the Reverend John Dart, corrected and revised by Timothy Thomas. The glossary appended was also mainly compiled by Thomas. The text of Urry's edition has often been criticized by subsequent editors for its frequent conjectural emendations, mainly to make it conform to his sense of Chaucer's meter. The justice of such criticisms should not obscure his achievement. His is the first edition of Chaucer for nearly 150 years to consult any manuscripts and is the first since that of William Thynne in 1534 to seek systematically to assemble a substantial number of manuscripts to establish his text… Urry was a friend of Thomas Hearne, who styles him a 'thorough pac'd scholar' and a 'truly worthy and virtuous, as well as ingenious, gentleman.' A portrait of Urry, engraved by N. Pigné, is prefixed to the work" (ODNB). This edition contains three previously unpublished tales: "The Coke's Tale of Gamelyn," "The Merchant's Second Tale" and "The Adventure of the Pardoner and Tapster at the Inn at Canterbury." This edition also includes a glossary of Middle English terms. With errata on last page. Woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces throughout. One thousand copies were printed on regular paper, as here, along with 250 large-paper copies. Hammond, 128-30. Lowndes, 426. Ruggiers, 93-115.
Interior quite clean and fine; contemporary calf expertly restored. A near-fine, handsome copy.