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CARLYLE, Thomas.

The French Revolution.

A History. In three volumes.

London: James Fraser, 1837 Stock Code: 145505
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"A prose epic"

First edition, one of 1,000 copies printed, of Carlyle's great history, among the most significant historical works of the 19th century, despite the fact that the first volume needed to be rewritten from memory after John Stuart Mill's maid accidentally burnt the manuscript; the work was the source material for Dickens's Tale of Two Cities.

"Carlyle wrote his French Revolution as a secular 'tract for the times' and as a warning for his compatriots of the frightful consequences of materialism, utilitarianism and democracy. Scottish puritanism and German romanticism were his lodestars; 'History is the essence of innumerable biographies' was his historical creed. The result is not a work of scholarship but a prose epic, teeming with colourful scenes of dramatic events and imaginative portraits of the leading revolutionaries. The book at once captured the English-speaking world, and has, outside France, moulded popular conception of the French revolution down to the present day" (PMM).

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3 volumes, large duodecimo (199 x 122 mm). Early 20th-century blue half calf, spines lettered in gilt, blue cloth sides, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt.


Bound without the terminal advert leaf in volume 2, but retaining all the half-titles. Spine sunned, some rubbing at extremities, inner hinges cracked but outer joints without split, vol. I with page of pencilled notes bound in after a binder's blank which is loosening at foot, sporadic light foxing and minor pencilled annotations, some browning at page extremities especially towards end of first volume, third volume with chip at head of half-title and repaired short close tear to title, a few minor short closed tears. A good copy.


Dyer p. 85; Printing and the Mind of Man 304; Tarr A8.1.


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