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Thomas Coryat. Coryat’s Crudities: Hastily Gobled Up in Five Moneth’s Travels.
London: Printed by W. S. [William Stansby], 1611.
Quarto, full period-style dark brown morocco gilt, elaborately tooled. $25,000.
First edition of this enthusiastic Renaissance travel guide by Englishman
Thomas Coryat, who spent five months in 1608 wandering through France,
Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. He made his journey not as
an explorer, ambassador, scholar, or merchant, but as a tourist traveling for
pleasure, a radical new idea: “I reaped more entire and sweet comfort in five
moneths travels of those seven countries mentioned in the front of my booke,
then I did all the dayes of my life before in England.” The adventurous Coryat
recorded anything that struck him, from the amphitheater at Verona to the
bare-breasted fashions of Venice to the Heidelburg tun, the world’s largest vat of
wine. Upon his return, he browbeat scores of his contemporaries into contributing
“panegyrick verses” to the book, including more or less satirical blurbs from Ben
Jonson, Inigo Jones, John Chapman, Thomas Campion, and John Donne. But like
the fork, the fancy Italian utensil that Coryat brought home to general mockery,
tourism would achieve wide acceptance in the century to come, with the Grand
Tour emerging as an English rite of passage. A fine copy, bound by Ramage.
John Milton. Paradise Lost.
London: Printed by S. Simmons next door to the Golden Lion in Aldersgate-Street, 1678.
Octavo, full period-style crimson morocco gilt, elaborately tooled. $4200.
Third edition of
Paradise Lost
, first published in 1667. Milton had the idea of the
poem, a reimagining of the Biblical fall in epic terms, as early as the 1640s, but it
wasn’t until his own fall into obscurity and blindness after 1660 that he devoted
himself to the work. In his dazzling range, bringing together a lifetime of classical
learning, Milton asserted his place in a tradition reaching back to Greece and
Rome. His chosen themes of rebellion, choice, freedom, and government
nonetheless mark
Paradise Lost
as a poem of its place and time, ringing with echoes
of the English CivilWar, the Commonwealth, and the Restoration: “with grave /
Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem’d / APillar of State; deep on his Front
engraven / Deliberation sat and public care; / And Princely counsel in his face yet
shon, / Majestick though in ruin.” In his Satan, an epic hero gone bad, Milton
sowed the seeds of English Romanticism; asWilliam Blake ventured, Milton was
“a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” A fine copy, bound by
Philip Dusel in the Restoration style of Queen’s Binder B.