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Voyages dans les Alpes, précédés d'un essai sur l'histoire naturelle des environs de Geneve. Vols. I-II (of 4) only
Neuchatel: Samuel Fauche, 1779. First edition. Saussure, Horace Bénédict de (1740-99). Voyages dans les Alpes, précédés d'un essai sur l'histoire naturelle des environs de Geneve. Vols. I-II (of 4) only. 4to. [4], xxxvi, 540, [2]; [4], xiv, 641, [3]pp. 14 engraved plates. Neuchatel: Samuel Fauche, 1779 [Vol. I]; Geneva: Barde, Manget, 1786 [Vol. II]. 250 x 192 mm. 19th century quarter calf gilt, marbled boards, green vellum corners, a little worn, extreme tip of lower corner of Vol. II front cover broken off. Very good copy.First Edition of the first two volumes of de Saussure's Voyages dans les Alpes, containing his account of the natural history of Geneva and its environs along with the record of his explorations in the area of Mont Blanc (the third and fourth volumes were not published until 1796, a decade after the appearance of Vol. II). De Saussure has been called the father of alpinism; between 1774 and 1787 he performed extensive geological investigations of the Alpine region, which he saw as holding the key to a true theory of the earth. "As Saussure originally conceived of the structure of the Alps, the primitive and central chain of the mountains consists of vertical strata, while the marginal or secondary mountains adjacent to the primitive mountains consist of steeply inclined beds. These progressively approach the horizontal as they reach the margins of the chain . . . After some thirteen years of accurate observations and thinking, and particularly after having studied the St. Gotthard area, Saussure concluded that the dislocation, distortion, and even overturning of the alpine rocks had been caused by processes of horizontal compression, as well as by uplifting by internal explosions. He thus came close to an accurate understanding of the structure of the Alps" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).
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