"THE FIRST PROSE PASTORAL ROMANCE IN ENGLISH": SIR PHILIP SIDNEY'S ARCADIA, 1725, FAMED COLLECTOR SIR HANS SLOANE'S COPY
SIDNEY, Sir Philip. Arcadia, Moderniz'd by Mrs. Stanley. London, 1725. Folio (10 by 15-1/2 inches), contemporary full mottled brown calf, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $1800.
1725 large paper folio edition of Sidney's Arcadia, "undoubtedly one of the greatest literary productions of pre-Shakespearian England," edited by Mrs. Stanley. The copy of Sir Hans Sloane.
Arcadia, first published in 1590, was "the first prose pastoral romance in English," written, according to Disraeli, in "the imperishable diction of Shakespeare, before Shakespeare wrote" (Ruoff, 392; Allibone, 2099). Mrs. Stanley, in her preface, writes, "I have been very careful not even in the minutest Point to vary from his Tract, either in the Thoughts or in the Story, and have followed him closely… it being my Opinion, that Sir Philip Sidney alone was capable of finishing what Sir Philip Sidney began…" With handsome engraved head and tailpieces, and woodcut initials. Bookplate of physician and collector Hans Sloane. In addition to serving as physician to the best of London society (his patients included Queen Anne and Georges I and II), Sloane was an avid collector. Upon his death, he bequeathed his collection to the nation; it forms the core of the British Museum, which opened six years after his death. Sloane Square in London is named after him.
Interior fine, expert restoration to joints, spine ends and board extremities. A very handsome copy with an excellent provenance.