“SUCH BLOODY DESIGNS OF REVENGE IN HER HEART”
REYNOLDS, John. The Triumphs of Gods Revenge… London: C. Griffin, 1704. Folio, contemporary full brown sheep sympathetically rebacked in brown calf, raised bands, brown morocco spine label. $1600.
1704 edition of Reynolds’ dramatic collection of tales of violent revenge and murder, highly influential for its insights into the psychology of crime, an inspiration for the Elizabethan drama The Changeling and hailed by Godwin as a source for his gothic novel Caleb Williams, illustrated with copper-engraved title page and elaborate wood-engravings, this association copy with the bookplate of Tage La Cour, co-author of The Murder Book (1971).
"In 1621 an Exeter merchant named John Reynolds published one of the earliest bestsellers in crime reporting… The Triumphs of Gods Revenge" (Borowitz, Blood and Ink, 4). This electrifying work, with its vivid tales of violent revenge, lust, murder and equally bloody punishment, is increasingly held as a turning point in crime literature, especially in its insights into the psychology of crime. Through highly detailed accounts that are "fundamentally concerned with retracing the origins of criminal rebelliousness," Reynolds jars his readers into a sense of recognition, however hesitant, with criminals and their motives (Gladfelder, Criminality and Narrative, 34). Notably inspiring revenge dramas such as Middleton and Rowley's masterpiece, The Changeling (1622), "by 1670 Triumphs had gone into a fifth edition (the first to be profusely illustrated with woodcuts), and new editions were still appearing a century later. The curious work had not exhausted its appeal by the end of the 18th century when the English novel began to reflect social and political didacticism. William Godwin acknowledged Reynolds's 'tremendous compilation' as a source of inspiration for his own 1794 novel of murder and repentance, Caleb Williams" (Borowitz, 4). Stated seventh edition. With copper-engraved title page, letterpress title page printed in black and red, detailed wood-engraved pictorial chapter headings, and separate title pages for Books II-VI (each with imprint: London, Printed for Ben. Griffin and Sem. Keble. 1702). Occasional mispagination without loss of text. Early editions of this work are quite rare. Lowndes, 2078. Allibone, 1778. See STC 20924-20944; Wing 1308A-1313. Scarce association copy containing the bookplate of renowned Danish critic and author Tage La Cour, co-author of The Murder Book, An Illustrated History of the Detective Story.
Text and plates generally fresh with light scattered foxing, occasional edge-wear to leaves without affecting text; slight edge-wear, rubbing to contemporary boards. An extremely good copy of this fascinating work.