"SITTING BY NIGHT IN MY SECRET STUDY…": 1672 FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF NOSTRADAMUS' PROPHECIES, VERY HANDSOMELY BOUND
NOSTRADAMUS, Michel de. The True Prophecies or Prognostications of Michael Nostradamus… London: Thomas Ratcliffe and Nathaniel Thompson, 1672. Folio (8 by 12 inches), 20th-century full green morocco gilt, raised bands, all edges gilt. $13,000.
First edition in English of Nostradamus' famous prognostications, with engraved frontispiece portrait, in handsome full morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
A physician by trade, Michel de Nostredame "began his prophetic writings in the early 1540s with a series of short yearly almanacs in which he made predictions in verse. The new art of printing gratified a popular demand for supernaturally acquired 'certainty,' and such almanacs were a common literary production of the day. It was with Les Prophéties (1555), however, that Nostradamus became an author of contemporary reputation and a figure who has had an impact on later history… [His more than 1000 rhyming quatrains, arranged in 'centuries' of 100] constitute the largest body of prophetic verse prepared to that day, perhaps in all literature" (Clute & Grant, 694). By blending scholarly learning, received folklore and religious sentiment in richly symbolic, highly poetic and frequently innovative language—and by crafting veiled commentary on the celebrities, scandals, warfare and pressing issues of his day—Nostradamus captured both the public's imagination and the French royal family's patronage. The doctor-seer's influence continues: readers have found in his prophecies such crises as the French Revolution and both World Wars, and several have interpreted his reference to war erupting in the Balkans or the Middle East as a glimpse at the end of the world. "More than any other writer in modern times Nostradamus knew how to titillate the deep-seated craving, felt by potentate and plebeian alike, to foresee the future, near and remote" (DSB). Wing N1399. Lowndes, 1708.
Frontispiece with neatly repaired closed tear to lower margin, just touching lettering but not image. A few leaves with faint marginal dampstaining, text generally clean. Full morocco binding exceptionally handsome, front joint just starting. A most desirable copy.