Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London

John GAY

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Item#: 104217 price:$1,200.00

"NOW IS THE TIME THAT RAKES THEIR REVELS KEEP; KINDLERS OF RIOT, ENEMIES OF SLEEP": LOVELY 1716 FIRST EDITION OF GAY’S TRIVIA ON LONDON LIFE

GAY, John. Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London. London: Bernard Lintott, [1716]. Slim octavo, late 19th-century full brown marbled calf gilt rebacked with original spine laid down, raised bands, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $1200.

First edition of Gay's charming poem, "a mine of information relative to the manners and habits of the street denizens of London during the Queen Anne period," handsomely bound in marbled calf-gilt.

Written by acclaimed 18th-century poet and dramatist John Gay, this poem is one of Gay's most famous as well as arguably the finest poem on London life in all of English literature. "The poem contains a mine of information relative to the manners and habits of the street denizens of London during the Queen Anne period, nowhere else to be found. Gay acknowledged the aid of Swift in the compilation" (Pickering). "Trivia was published on 26 January 1716… This poem, a walk through the streets of London, strikes an ambivalent tone. The poem's subject is a fearless 'walker' yet, as Swift wrote to Gay much later 'A coach and six horses is the utmost exercise you can bear'; Gay offers fastidious advice for maintaining a cleanly image, yet depicts filth and waste as the mythological source for a flourishing industry. Trivia is a town georgic and its 'hero' is a bootboy with whom Gay found a certain amount in common; for though he attended the levees of the Hanoverian placemen, laughed at their witticisms, and flattered them with verses, he never felt at home" (ODNB). This is the regular-paper issue; also issued in a large-paper format of 250 copies (from the total edition of fewer than 2000), printed from the same setting of type, but with engraved headpieces at the beginning of the three parts (pp. 1, 21, 53) rather than printer's ornaments. Rothschild 916. Old bookseller description of renowned Philadelphia rare bookseller Charles Sessler laid in.

Interior clean and fine. Corners lightly rubbed; contemporary marbled-calf gilt beautiful. An excellent copy.

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