“OFTEN CENSURED FOR HIS LAPSES INTO GROSS INDECENCY”
RABELAIS, Francois. The Works of Francis Rabelais, M.D. Formerly translated by Sir Thomas Urquart, M.D… Since carefully revised, and compared throughout with M. le du Chat’s edition, by Mr. Ozell. London: John Hart, 1750. Five volumes. 12mo, 19th-century full brown morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $1850.
Early edition of the first English translation of Rabelais, the first edition with the set of 28 copperplate engravings (24 folding), very handsomely bound.
“Though an English version of Gargantua was licensed in 1592, and was probably then issued, no translation of Rabelais is extant prior to Urquhart’s of 1653… In point of style Urquhart was Rabelais incarnate, and in his employment of the verbal resources, whether of science and pseudo-science or slang, he almost surpassed Rabelais himself” (DNB). “This translation has been called ‘one of the most perfect transfusions of an author from one language into another that ever man accomplished” (Pforzheimer 814). Rabelais “is often censured for his lapses into gross indecency and his physiological and medical obscenities. These may be explained partly as the work of an irrepressible jester writing for a coarse, outspoken society… His work incensed the theologians and was condemned by the parlement. He issued a revised edition of the first two books, attenuating his insulting references to the theologians, but it failed to placate the Sorbonne and both books were again condemned… Moliere drew on him, Voltaire and Balzac imitated him, but many have censured his obscenity” (Reid, 509-10). Bookplates, early owner signatures.
Plates and text clean and fine, with only one tear along fold line to one plate (IV:135). Bindings very handsome. A desirable set of an esteemed translation.