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PARADISE LOST. A POEM IN TWELVE BOOKS. [bound with] PARADISE REGAIN'D. [bound with] SAMSON AGONISTES
Printed by Miles Flesher, for Jacob Tonson; Printed by R. E. for Randal Taylor; Printed, and are to be Sold by Randal Taylor, London 1688 - The 1688 "Paradise Lost," Containing the Earliest Serious Illustrations of English Poetry. 368 x 235 mm (14 1/2 x 9 1/4"). 2 p.l., 1-219, [1], 219-250, 151-196, 297-343, [1], [6] pp. (subscriber list); 1 p.l., 66 pp.; 3 p.l., 57 pp. Three works in one volume. Fourth Edition, First Folio Edition, First Illustrated Edition. Contemporary speckled calf, raised bands, expertly rebacked and recornered by Courtland Benson, spine compartments with small gilt centerpiece, original red morocco label. FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR AND 12 STRIKING ENGRAVINGS, each placed at the beginning of a book of "Paradise Lost." Front pastedown with bookplate of the Wickenheiser Milton Library; front flyleaf with inscription "C. L. Fuller. From E. Coleman," with what is presumably the date scissored out. Coleridge 93b and 170; Shawcross 347 and 348; Hofer 16; "Wither to Prior" 607; Pforzheimer 720; Wing M-2147; Lowndes II, 1558. A few faint abrasions on the boards, but the original binding now carefully restored and quite appealing. Three marginal tears expertly repaired (text unaffected), final signature a bit spotted, a few minor spots elsewhere (including a small inoffensive spot on a plate), other trivial imperfections, but an excellent copy internally of a book seldom found in agreeable condition, the leaves generally quite fresh and clean and with very ample margins. This work holds a major place in the history of book illustration, and it went a long way toward establishing Milton's reputation. Its story begins with curious financial events that took place before publication. After the third printing of "Paradise Lost," Milton's widow surrendered, for £8, all further claims to a share in the profits from the work. The publication bargains continued when the printer Simmons then transferred all his rights to the poem in 1681 to Brabazon Aylmer for £25, and Aylmer subsequently sold half interests to Jacob Tonson and Richard Bentley, who together produced our sumptuous fourth printing of 1688, the first edition to appear in folio format and the first with illustrations. Most of the plates here were designed by the celebrated John Baptist Medina (1659-1710), a painter of Spanish origin who made his career in England and Scotland and who was deeply influenced by the works of Rubens. The present illustrations are composed with sophistication and artistry on multiple levels. All but two of the 13 plates were engraved by Michael Burghers, a Dutch-born artist who worked mainly in Oxford. Hodnett says in his "Five Centuries of Book Illustration" that the 1688 Tonson Milton is "the earliest serious effort to illustrate an important work of English poetry," and in his work on Francis Barlow, he says our book is "the only major English literary work with important engraved illustrations in the 17th century." John Harthan, in "The Illustrated Book," says that the plate facing the opening of the text is "one of the most forceful of English 17th century illustrations." The book was important in other ways, too: it was one of the first to be financed through subscription, bearing the names of more than 500 subscribers, including Dryden and Sir Paul Rycaut. And our strikingly illustrated--and consequently popular--folio printing went a long way toward helping to establish the reputation of Milton, whose "Paradise Lost" was relatively unknown when Tonson issued his edition and whose poem then appeared in more than 100 editions during the 18th century (more than twice the number of editions of Shakespeare's plays). The 1688 "Paradise Lost" often appears in the marketplace by itself, but the present volume also contains "Paradise Regain'd" and "Samson Agonistes," both dated 1688. Fourth Edition, First Folio Edition, First Illustrated Edition [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Rare Books (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2013-11-29           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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