"BECAME A TEXTBOOK IN RHETORIC AND BELLES-LETTRES FOR A CENTURY, NOT LEAST IN AMERICA": LORD KAMES' COMPREHENSIVE ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM, 1762 FIRST EDITION
KAMES, Henry Home, Lord. Elements of Criticism. Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & J. Bell… A. Millar, London, 1762. Three volumes. Octavo, contemporary full brown calf, raised bands, red morocco spine labels. $6000.
First edition of Lord Kames' comprehensive philosophical and aesthetic treatise, desirable in unrestored contemporary calf.
The Elements of Criticism is the most important result of the Scottish aesthetic movement, and "the most comprehensive work on aesthetics of the 18th century since Du Bos' Réflexions critiques of 1719" (translated from Dobai, Die Kunstliteratur des Klassizismus und der Romantik in England II, 115). "In Elements of Criticism (1762) Kames sought to propound the fundamental principles of criticism drawn from human nature" (ODNB), and the work "became a textbook in rhetoric and belles-lettres for a century, not least in America" (Yolton, et al., Dictionary of 18th-Century British Philosophers, 503-06). Indeed, Thomas Jefferson had a copy of the third edition in his library (Sowerby 4699).
"The power of aesthetic judgment in human nature closely resembles that of moral judgment. It is the ability to experience the agreeableness and disagreeableness of works of art as objective features of these works. As in the case of the perception of moral qualities, the objectivity consists in the overall order of which these qualities form part. This order is the natural emotional response to the experience of ideas when they follow the natural paths of association. The standard of aesthetic taste is thus to be ascertained through investigation of what is natural in these regards, and the natural is that which is common to experienced judges of art (see Elements of Criticism, esp. chap. 25)" (Yolton, et al., 504). Jessop, 141.
Interiors clean, some light rubbing and scuffing to bindings, spine head of Volume III a little worn. Still an excellent set of this scarce title in unrestored contemporary calf.