London: Printed for Dan. Browne and Will. Turner, 1705. Octavo, measuring 7.5 x 4.5 inches: , 1-120 129-192 209-256 241-256 241-256 273-511  (complete). Full contemporary Cambridge-style speckled calf, boards paneled and ornamented in blind, raised bands, red morocco spine label lettered and ruled in gilt. Two engraved bookplates facing title page (one mounted on top of the other), the top bookplate that of Scottish lawyer George Carre, ownership signatures of John Carre dated 1739 and 1740 to both fly leaves, shelf label affixed to corner of front pastedown. Expert restoration to spine ends; small tear with loss in margin of 2H1; some gatherings embrowned, as often.
First edition in English of Aristotle’s Poetics, the earliest extant work of Western literary criticism. Aristotle’s argument encompassed multiple modes of poetic imitation or mimesis, including tragedy, epic, comedy, and lyric, but his treatment of tragedy is the only section that survives. He famously claims that tragedy, rightly composed, produces a transformative catharsis in the audience, purging spectators of dangerous emotions: the experience of tragedy “by means of Compassion and Terror perfectly refines in us, all sorts of Passions.” Compressed in scope and unified in action, tragedy emerges as the most powerful poetic form: “that which is well compacted, is much more agreeable, and touches us more sensibly than that which is diffused. . . . We may be convinced of this Truth, if we put Sophocles’s Oedipus, into as many Verses as the Ilias contains.” The unknown translator of this first English edition declares the argument of the Poetics to be a basic truth, timeless and inescapable: “Whoever shall boast that he has obtained this Art by rejecting the ways of the Ancients, and taking a quite different one, deceives others, and is himself deceived; because that’s absolutely impossible.” In addition to the translator’s preface, the text is extensively annotated, with detailed endnotes by French translator André Dacier after each chapter. ESTC T116276. A landmark of Greek philosophy, surprisingly scarce in commerce.