“YOU STUDY THE DOCUMENT ONLY IN ORDER TO KNOW THE MAN”: TAINE’S HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE
TAINE, H. A. History of English Literature. New York: Henry Holt, 1879. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter burgundy calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled boards, endpapers, and edges. $350.
Early edition of the noted philosopher’s analysis of English literature from Beowulf to Tennyson, handsomely bound.
Taine “conceived of literature as the result of three factors or ‘primordial forces.’ First is ‘race,’ the ‘innate and hereditary dispositions which man brings with him to the light.’ Second is ‘milieu,’ consisting of climate, politics, social conditions, morality. Third is ‘moment’ or history. All three combine with the individual genius (la faculte maîtresse’) of the author… [Taine’s philosophy] opened new vistas for literary criticism, positivism, and the novel” (Dolbow, 311-12). Two volumes in one, with second title page and table of contents. First published in France in 1863; the first English translation was published in 1871. Contemporary pencil owner signature.
A few faint finger smudges to preliminaries, light rubbing to extremities, toning to spine and top inch of front board. A near-fine copy, handsomely bound.