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MALTHUS, Thomas Robert.

[An Essay on the Principle of Population: in Russian.] Opyt o zakonie narodonaseleniia ...

ili izlozhenie proshedshago i nastoiashchago dieistviia etogo zakona na blagodenstvie cheloviecheskago roda, s prilozheniem nieskol'kikh izsliedovanii o nadezhdie na ostranenie ili smiagchenie prichiniaemogo im zla. [Translated by P. A. Bibikov.]

Availability: In stock

Published: St Petersburg E. E. Glazunova, 1868

Stock Code: 87959

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First Russian-language edition of Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in English in 1798, one of the most important and influential works in the history of economic thought. The translation was made by P. A. Bibikov, a historian, philosopher, and literary critic, who had already translated Smith's Wealth of Nations in 1866.
"Malthus was not the first writer to make the obvious point that the growth of population is ultimately limited by the food supply. He was, however, the first to bring it home to readers with the aid of a simple, powerful metaphor: population when allowed to increase without limit, increases in a geometrical ratio, while the food supply can at best increase at an arithmetical ratio; so, whatever the plausible rate of increase of the food supply, an unchecked multiplication of human beings must quickly lead to standing-room only" (Blaug, Great Economists before Keynes, p. 141).
"The central idea of the essay - and hub of the Malthusian theory - was a simple one... If the natural increase in population occurs the food supply becomes insufficient and the size of the population is checked by 'misery' - that is the poorest sections of the community suffer disease and famine. Malthus recognises two other possible checks to population expansion: first 'vice' - that is, homosexuality, prostitution, and abortion (all totally unacceptable to Malthus); and second 'moral restraint' - the voluntary limitation of the product of children by the postponement of marriage." (PMM).
"For today's readers, living in a post-Malthus era, the world's population problems are well known and serious, but no longer sensational. It is difficult therefore to appreciate the radical and controversial impact made by the Essay at the time of publication. It challenged the conventional notion that population growth is an unmixed blessing. It discussed prostitution, contraception, and other sexual matters. And it gave vivid descriptions of the horrendous consequences of overpopulation and of the brutal means by which populations are checked" (ODNB). Despite its unpopularity with liberal critics, Malthus's principle of population became accepted as a central tenet of classical political economy and Charles Darwin acknowledged Malthus's influence in the development of his theory of natural selection.
Malthus was subsequently appointed Professor of History and Political Economy at the East India Company's Haileybury College.

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2 volumes, octavo (220 x 144 mm). Original pale green printed wrappers to volume one, volume two in a facsimile stiff paper wrapper, the original rear printed paper wrapper preserved, spine and covers printed in black, preserved in a custom-made clam shell cloth box.


Ownership inscription to title-pages and ownership stamp of Professor Katsenelenbaum of Moscow to first leaf of text in each volume. Wrappers a little soiled, some wear to spine ends, front wrapper of volume 1 separating from spine at foot, some pencil marking to head of rear cover. Overall an excellent set, uncut and largely unopened.


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