"ALMOST BEYOND BELIEF IS THE ENDLESS NUMBER OF HUMAN SACRED IDEAS FOUNDED IN A SUPREME REVERENCE OR THE REVOLUTION OF THE UNIVERSE ROUND THE AXIS OF THE EARTH": RARE FIRST EDITION OF O'NEILL'S THE NIGHT OF THE GODS: AN INQUIRY INTO COSMIC AND COSMOGONIC MYTHOLOGY AND SYMBOLISM, 1893
O'NEILL, John. The Night of the Gods. An Inquiry into Cosmic and Cosmogonic Mythology and Symbolism. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1893. Two volumes. Tall quarto, original gilt-stamped navy cloth, top edge red, uncut and partially unopened.
First edition of this popular late 19th-century work of comparative mythology focused on the rotation of the heavens, with frontispiece plates, in original cloth-gilt.
The Night of the Gods "is a marvel of learned research and of scholarly insight. It is not written to support and preconceived theory as to the cradle-land of mankind or of the Aryans… In a purely objective manner it investigates the mythologies and the religious symbolism of all historic nations and brings together whatever can throw light upon the cosmogonical and cosmological ideas of the early men. The result is a work which no future student of mythology of of the philosophy of mythology can safely neglect. Its fundamental thesis is that the visible revolution of the heavens around the axis of the universe and the primeval worship of a supreme, almighty, world-directing God enthroned at the summit of this axis in the northern celestial pole furnish us a more effective key to all the great mythologies than has ever hitherto been applied to their interpretation" (The Methodist Review). O'Neill's work became extremely popular and influential among mystic and esoteric circles, largely due to its scholarly approach to comparative mythology. Only one copy of this work has appeared at auction since 1947. Faint red numerical stamping to endpapers.
Interior generally fine, inner paper hinges expertly reinforced, only light wear and soiling to cloth, mild toning to Volume I, gilt bright. A near-fine copy. Rare.