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An Enquiry into the Life and Writings of - BLACKWELL, Thomas.] - 1736. 
London: 1736 - Octavo (200 x 121 mm). Contemporary finely sprinkled dark calf, 19th-century red morocco label, bands framed by double gilt rules, double fillet gilt panel to the boards, edges sprinkled red. With an inked 19th-century ownership inscription, noting "From the Library at Filton of my great uncle Revd. J. Dixon, J.H.D.", to the front free endpaper, together with the bookplate of Robert J. Hayhurst, Lancashire chemist and bibliophile. A little rubbed, corners through, joints just starting, minor chipping head and tail of the spine, tan-burn to the endpapers which are slightly browned, text lightly toned, fore-edge a touch foxed with very minor encroachment to the margin, but remains a very good copy. Portrait frontispiece, finely-engraved allegorical title-page vignette by Gérard Scotin after Gravelot, and 12 other similar head-pieces engraved by Scotin, Vander Gucht, Fourdrinier, folding map. Bound with dedication/advertisement leaf, directions to the binder, 2-page bookseller's list for J. Oswald. Second edition, one year after the first. Hugh Trevor-Roper's copy, with his Reynolds Stone bookplate to the front pastedown, together with two pages of his notes in ballpoint pen, both sides of a sheet of Savile Club notepaper. Trevor-Roper was awarded a scholarship in classics at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1932, but transferred to modern history in 1934. However, his love of classics remained with him. "Trevor-Roper's progress in reading Homer had been slow until his vocabulary 'broke in my hands' as he read the description of the Gardens of Alcinous in Odyssey 7). Thereafter he could read the poem 'freely and easily and enjoy it'. In his wartime notebooks Trevor-Roper reflected on the experience under a rubric that described the 'memorable moments' in his life up to c. 1940. There he remarks that he had 'never wavered' in his 'passion' for Homer since, and in a later memoir he confirmed that the experience converted him into a 'passionate classicist': 'it was a revelation to me', he continues, 'I have always agreed with Walter Bagehot that "a man who has never read Homer is like a man who has never seen the sea: there is a great object of which he is unaware'" (Malloch, "The Classicism of Hugh Trevor-Roper", Cambridge Classical Journal, 61, p.5). The principal of Marischal College, Blackwell published works on the classics that "were pioneering studies in their fields and mark him as a major figure of the Scottish Enlightenment" (ODNB). The present work - described by Gibbon, who misattributed it to Bishop Berkeley, as "a fine though sometimes rather fanciful effort of genius and learning" - sets out to consider "why Homer had been the supreme epic poet and concluded that his achievement was explicable almost entirely in terms of natural forces. Homer was the outcome of a specific historical context, social organisation, geography, and climate, which combined to shape the culture he represented and which provided an ethos uniquely favourable to epic poetry. The argument was that culture was learned, not inherent; it was the basic means of organising social institutions and was part of a continually changing process - ideas which were to become the cornerstones of modern cultural anthropology".
[Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
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