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Oeuvres de Fontenelle
Paris,: Jean-Francois Bastien,, 1790.. Eight volumes, octavo, engraved portrait frontispiece in volume 1 and a folding plate in vol. 2; a fine set in contemporary French polished marbled calf, one or two joints slightly weak; flat spines ornately gilt with double red labels. A very attractive set of Fontenelle's works, including his enormously popular Entretiens sur la PluralitÈ des Mondes: this utopian analysis of the universe took Europe by storm and was precursor and inspiration to scores of imitations. It was first published in 1686, and first translated into English by Aphra Behn only two years later.Although the Entretiens clearly owes a tremendous debt to the astronomical traditions of Galileo and Brahe, Fontenelle's sensational tale of the inhabitants in 'other planets, in other galaxies, and even on comets, could hardly fail to captivate' (Nina Rattner Gelbart, Introduction to the Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds). In the form of an elegant dialogue between a scientist and a Marquise, it takes as its starting point that 'Toute la philosophie n'est fondÈe sur deux choses: sur ce qu'on a l'esprit curieux et les yeux mauvais': that is, that if we had a perfect understanding we would not need science because all would be spontaneously revealed. Meant as a quick summation of scientific discovery, but also as pure speculation on the possibilities of the universe, it suggests that as it has taken six millennia for Europeans to cross the Atlantic Ocean to America, it may take a little longer for the inhabitants of other worlds to cross the far greater expanses of space.This set also includes 'Dialogues des Morts anciens' and 'Histoire des Oracles', works which exemplify Fontenelle's desire to propagate philosophical thinking. Voltaire described Fontenelle as having the most universal mind produced by the era of Louis XIV.Brunet, II, 1332.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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