“A WORK WHICH HAS WON FOR ITS AUTHOR AN IMPERISHABLE FAME”: EDWARD YOUNG’S NIGHT THOUGHTS, 1853 ILLUSTRATED EDITION
YOUNG, Edward. Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality. London: William Tegg, 1853. 12mo, contemporary full tan polished calf, gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, black morocco spine label, marbled endpapers and edges. $400.
Later illustrated edition of "arguably the [18th] century's greatest long poem," with frontispiece portrait and four steel-engraved illustrations, along with a life of the author, handsomely bound.
"Pursuing consolation for the loss of his stepdaughter in 1736 and his wife and son-in-law in 1740, Young wrote The Complaint, or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality (1742–6), arguably the century's greatest long poem. Its nine ‘Nights,’ issued serially in quartos tending to greater length, total nearly 10,000 lines of blank verse. The first of these maintain the quasi-autobiographical fiction of a nocturnal speaker lamenting the loss of child, spouse, and friend and finding Christian consolation… Over 100 collected editions of the Night-Thoughts were published in the next five decades, including translations in most European languages… Illustrated by Blake and read closely by Wordsworth and Coleridge, the poem remained popular well into the 1800s… Young has retained an importance that is also ensured by his friendships with writers as diverse as Pope, Johnson, and Richardson and his contemporaries' admiration, summed up by Johnson's judgment that Young ‘was a man of genius and a poet’" (ODNB). First published 1742-46. Ink gift inscription dated 1855.
A handsomely bound copy in near-fine condition.