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LEIBNIZ, Gottfried Wilhelm von.

Lehr-Sätze über die Monadologie…

Aus dem Frantzösischen übersetzt von Heinrich Köhler; [bound with two other works on Leibniz.]

Frankfurt & Leipzig: Widow of Johann Meyer, 1720 Stock Code: 127048
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The Monadology, well-preserved in a contemporary vellum binding

Exceedingly scarce first appearance in print of the Monadology, Leibniz's most mature philosophical work and one of the most important philosophical texts of the period. This appealing contemporary Sammelband gathers the earliest Monadology with the German translation of Leibniz and Clark's correspondence and Fontenelle's account of Leibniz's life, with the plate illustrating his most famous invention: the calculating machine.

"Few works of philosophy can rival Leibniz's Monadology in terms of sweep: it begins with an account of the most basic substances, monads, and ends with God's intimate relation to the most exalted of these substances, namely minds... It is difficult not to be struck by both its scope and its size, and in particular the apparent disparity between the two. In the entire history of philosophy there is little else like it" (Strickland, p. 1). Written in 1714 and published in the original French as late as 1814, the Monadology first appeared in print in this very rare German translation in 1720, then in a Latin translation by Christian Wolff a year later. The title was coined by the work's first editor, Heinrich Köhler; Leibniz himself never settled on a title, though one of the surviving manuscripts was annotated by a copyist, "The principles of philosophy, by Mr Leibniz". The Monadology was also one of the first of Leibniz's philosophical works to be translated into English, in 1867 by Frederick Henry Hedge.

Though relatively well-represented at leading institutions in the US and Europe (17 copies located by Library Hub), the Monadology rarely appears in commerce, with only four recorded instances at auction since 1980 (Zisska and Schauer 2011; Reiss and Sohn 2010; Kiefer Buch und Kunstauktionen 2010; Sotheby's 1984).

The Monadology is bound first of three texts, the subsequent titles being:

a) LEIBNIZ, & Clark. Merckwürdig Schrifften, welche zwischen dem Herrn Baron von Leibniz und dem Herrn Clarcke, über besondere Materien der natürlichen Religion Frankfurt & Leipzig: Widow of Johann Meyer, 1720. Ravier 351.

b) FONTENELLE, Bernard le Bovier de. Lebens-Beschreibung Herrn Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz Amsterdam: s.n., 1720. With 1 engraved folding plate of Leibniz's calculating machine, without the portrait frontispiece. Ravier 349.

A 16-page contemporary Leibniz bibliography is appended.

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3 works bound in 1 volume, octavo (172 x 100 mm). Contemporary full vellum over paste paper boards, edges sprinkled red. Housed in a custom book-form quarter calf box.


Engraved head- and tailpieces, initials. With the engraved folding plate of Leibniz's calculating machine at p. 119 of the third and final work, but without the engraved portrait frontispiece.


Library shelf mark, "Bibl. no. 121" in ink to front pastedown, pencil annotations to verso of each title page. Some loss of vellum to head of spine and top edge of front board, vellum otherwise somewhat spotted and marked as often, faint evidence of removed label to front pastedown, contents evenly browned, else a very good, well-preserved copy of the Monadology bound with two relevant contemporary works.


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