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Peter Harrington

The Common-Wealth of Oceana.

The Common-Wealth of Oceana.

HARRINGTON, James. Folio (272 x 174 mm). Contemporary ruled sheep, expertly rebacked to style preserving original spine, contemporary manuscript title to top edge, edges sprinkled. Contemporary inked notations to free pastedowns, single contemporary correction to p. 151. Discreet restoration to corners and board edges with sheep replaced in places. Light browning to contents as is usual with this title, title and following 3 leaves a little chipped at foot and along fore-edge, some finger-soiling, minor stain at fore edge of last couple of leaves, blank lower corner of pages 3-4 torn away, small hole to pp. 63-64 with loss of a couple of characters only, a little marginal worming, touching one or two printed shooulder notes; withal a very good copy. Title page printed in black and red. First edition of Harrington's utopian masterpiece, written between 1654 and 1656, publication of which was hindered by political obstruction. Typeset by three different printers to avoid seizure, the work was published with two variant title pages, one having the imprint "printed by J. Streater for Livewell Chapman", the other "printed for D. Pakeman". A portrait frontispiece is sometimes found, but a clear majority of known copies, including this one, do not have it. A convinced Republican, Harrington's Oceana - dedicated to Oliver Cromwell - described "a Utopian State with a written constitution, providing for a bicameral legislature, rotation in office, the indirect election of a president, secret ballot, and other ideas much in advance of their time, some of which influenced the framers of the U.S. Constitution" (Walker, the Oxford Companion to Law, p. 555). "Oceana is one of those works that transcend their immediate context. The book's historical significance is that it marks a moment of paradigmatic breakthrough, a major revision of English political theory and history in the light of concepts drawn from civic humanism and Machiavellian Republicanism" (Pocock, Machiavellian moment, p. 384). "Other than the Utopia [of Thomas More,] this is perhaps the most famous attempt at envisioning a model commonwealth. It has been consulted at various times by those who have planned new states and commonwealths" (Pforzheimer). ESTC R18610; Pforzheimer 449; Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 2335; Wing H809.

The Poetical Works. Edited by Mrs. Shelley.

SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe. 4 volumes, octavo. Original brown cloth, spines lettered in gilt, arabesque panel in blind to covers, yellow endpapers. Ownership signature dated 1841 to front free endpapers. Light sunning to spines and cover extremities, faint marks to cloth, minor wear to spine ends. A very good set. Engraved portrait frontispiece with tissue-guard in vol. I, publisher's ads to vols. I, II and IV. First edition of Mary Shelley's collected edition of her husband's poetical works, the first complete collected edition, which established Shelley finally and irreversibly amongst the great poets of the English language. Pirate editions of Shelley's works had persuaded his father, Sir Timothy, that all hope of obscurity had passed, and Mary was allowed to prepare a proper edition provided there was only a minimum of biographical information. "Mary Shelley brought Shelley into the mainstream of the national culture. He was no longer the author of a notorious banned poem [Queen Mab] only obtainable from shops specializing in blasphemy, sedition and advice on birth control. He was the prophet of Prometheus Unbound, one of the most ambitious attempts ever made to uplift life by literature, and of other works such as the "Ode to the West Wind". The notes that Mary added are masterpieces of editing, adding so immeasurably to the reader's understanding that nobody would now consider printing Shelley's poems without them" (St Clair, p. 492). Dunbar, Shelley Studies 345; Granniss, 88; Wise, p. 87; St Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys: The Biography of a Family, 1989.