“ESSENTIAL FOR THE FULL UNDERSTANDING OF DEFOE AND THE SUPERNATURAL”: DEFOE’S VIEW OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD, OR, GENERAL HISTORY OF APPARITIONS, 1752, IN CONTEMPORARY CALF
DEFOE, Daniel [attributed to]. A View of the Invisible World: or, General History of Apparitions. Collected from the best Authorities, both Ancient and Modern; and Attested by Authors of the Highest Reputation and Credit. London: no publisher, 1752. Octavo, contemporary full brown calf, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $1200.
1752 edition, the first of three collected editions that “might almost be called new editions” of Defoe’s Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions (1727), capturing his intense fascination with the occult, with four copper-engraved plates (including frontispiece), in contemporary calf.
"No one can say that Daniel Defoe did not enjoy what he considered to be good ghost stories and relating them in vivid terms. His Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions, which Defoe published in 1727, is a tribute to that fascination… Many of the stories Defoe tells of ghosts, spirits, or of the supposed appearances of the Devil are intended to debunk the entire notion of such occult forces acting upon human beings. But it may be said that matters of the occult gave him a platform for attacking the Deists and Arians whose denial of God's immediate presence in the world and of the existence of a world of spirits made him rush to the defense of what he considered to be orthodox Christianity. The occult, then, was a grand and mysterious stage on which he could act a variety of roles" (Novak, "Defoe's Spirits, Apparitions and the Occult," 9-16). Among Defoe's works on the supernatural, "the most interesting and possibly the most important is his Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions (1727). "A familiarity with this fascinating book is essential for the full understanding of Defoe and the supernatural in the 18th century" (Baine, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106:4,335-347). First published anonymously in 1727; second edition in 1735 (titled Secrets of the Invisible World Disclos'd…). This 1752 collection, with its succeeding 1770 and 1791 editions, "might almost be called new editions of Defoe's work. The editor of A View of the Invisible World: or, General History of Apparitions (1752) included a new preface, excised most of the expository matter, and provided a score of new stories to match the score from Defoe. But the new stories take up only about a third of the space devoted to Defoe's" (Baine, 335). With four copper-engraved plates, woodcut-engraved ornamental initials, head- and tailpieces. Bound without signature T (145-153); several pages bound out of order. See CBEL II:509; Lowndes, 620. Early owner signatures.
Text and plates generally fresh with small closed marginal tears, occasional loss to margins minimally affecting text, usually expertly repaires; some light restoration to binding. A good copy in contemporary calf.