"THE MOST AMAZING, ENDURING AND ENDEARING ONE-MAN FEAT": 1765 THIRD EDITION OF JOHNSON'S LANDMARK DICTIONARY
JOHNSON, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language: In Which The Words are deduced from their Originals, And Illustrated in their Different Significations By Examples from the best Writers. To Which Are Prefixed, A History of the Language, And An English Grammar. London: Printed by W. Strahan, for A. Millar, et al., 1765. Two volumes. Thick folio (10-1/2 by 16-1/2 inches), contemporary full brown calf rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spines and green morocco spine labels neatly laid down, raised bands, marbled endpapers. $13,500.
Third edition of the first great dictionary of the English language, Johnson's "audacious attempt to tame his unruly native tongue… combining huge erudition with a steely wit and remarkable clarity of thought" (Hitchings, 3), in beautiful contemporary calf-gilt.
"Johnson's Dictionary made him a superstar. To be sure, there had been dictionaries before his. The difference is that, while these were compiled, Johnson's was written…. The glory of the book is that it is also a compendium of English literature, reprinting fine examples of words from the masters, often Shakespeare or Sir Francis Bacon. Johnson sought to 'intersperse with verdure and flowers the dusty deserts of barren philology" (The Smithsonian Book of Books). "Dr. Johnson performed with his Dictionary the most amazing, enduring and endearing one-man feat in the field of lexicography" (PMM 201). Title pages printed in red and black. Courtney & Smith, 54. Grolier 100. Rothschild 1237. Owner booklabel.
Very faint marginal dampstain affecting only a few leaves in Volume I, interiors generally clean, expert restoration to corners. A very nicely restored copy in beautiful contemporary calf-gilt.