4to, pp. , 129, [1 (blank)], , 248; very occasional slight foxing, final leaf a little soiled with short closed tear, a small wormhole to approximately first 100 ff. (touching text but never affecting legibility); a very good copy in contemporary Cambridge-panelled sheep, neatly rebacked in calf with gilt red morocco lettering-piece, evidence of earlier stab-stitching to gutter.
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De re poetica, or, Remarks upon Poetry, with Characters and Censures of the most considerable Poets, whether ancient or modern, extracted out of the best and choicest Criticks.
First edition of a valuable survey of critical opinion current at the end of the seventeenth century.
The first part contains a series of short essays on style, the varieties of poetry, rhyme, translation, and discusses the relationship between English, French, Italian, and Spanish poetry and their respective languages. The second and longer part contains ‘characters and censures’ of sixty-seven poets from Aeschylus to poets of Blount’s own day, including such earlier English writers as Beaumont and Fletcher, Spenser, Jonson, Shakespeare, and Milton, all of whom Blount had oddly passed over in his earlier Censura celebriorum authorum (1690), the pages of which were filled instead with ‘their learned contemporaries, whose fame has now utterly vanished’ (DNB). Among Blount’s own contemporaries are Cowley, Davenant, Denham, Waller, Katherine Philips, and Rochester. Although Blount rarely ventures a judgement of his own, his compilation of contemporary Remarks upon Poetry offers a conspectus of the reception of poets, both past and present, in Restoration England.
Of particular interest is Blount’s description of Shakespeare, written with reference to the Fourth Folio, published only a few years previously in 1685.
ESTC R15316; Wing B 3347.
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