THE FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION: SA'DI'S SELECT FABLES FROM GULISTAN, OR THE BED OF ROSES, TRANSLATED BY STEPHEN SULLIVAN, 1774, THE COPY OF LEIGH HUNT
(SA'DI SHIRAZI, Muslih-uddin) SULIVAN, Stephen, translator. Select Fables from Gulistan, or the Bed of Roses. London: J. Ridley, 1774. Octavo, 20th-century half navy morocco gilt, marbled boards and endpapers, top edge gilt. $2800.
First edition in English of this Sufi Persian classic, attractively bound. The copy of Leigh Hunt, the 19th-century poet, essayist, and literary critic, also known for introducing Keats to Shelley, with his owner inscription on the half title.
The Gulistan ( "The Rose Garden") is a semi-autobiographical work composed of short, proverb-like stories interspersed with poetry. When he wrote the original manuscript in 1258, Sa'di intended to address practical topics from love to morality in an accessible and natural way. Sa'di "exhibits perpetual variety of situation and incident… he finds room on his narrow canvas for the extremes of lot, the play of motives, the rule of destiny, the lessons of morals, and the portraits of great men. He has furnished the originals of a multitude of tales and proverbs which are current in our mouths, and attributed by us to recent writers" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). With scarce half title. Lowndes, 2168. This copy once belonged to Leigh Hunt and bears his pencil owner signature on the half title. Hunt's "long life connected the Romantic period with the nineteenth-century Victorian era, and he had a wide and decisive influence in both periods. His editorship of The Examiner was a high point in the history of English journalism, and his campaigning on a variety of liberal and human issues marks him out as one of the great reformers. His theatrical and literary criticism, his championing of poets such as Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, and D. G. Rossetti, and his enthusiasm for Italian arts all had a formative effect on British culture in the 19th and 20th centuries… Hazlitt said in The Spirit of the Age (1825) that Hunt 'improves upon acquaintance'; everyone can gain from knowing him better" (DNB). Today, Hunt is perhaps best known for his friendships with Keats and Shelley, whom he introduced to each other. Additional pencil owner signature on half title.
Scattered embrowning to interior, only light wear to binding extremities. An attractive, near-fine copy. Very rare.