Liber amoris; or, the new Pygmalion.

London, Printed for John Hunt ... by C. H. Reynell ... 1823.

12mo., pp. [4], 192, with an engraved title-page incorporating a vignette of Sarah Walker, but wanting the half-title; engraved title foxed as near always, but a very good copy in early polished calf, spine gilt, morocco label; armorial bookplate of Edward Nicholas Hurt (d. 1867), from the library of Bent Juel-Jensen.


US $452€387

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First edition of one of the most controversial books in all English literature, a wonderful autobiographical text which has been systematically deprecated since its first publication. It tells the bitterly precise tale of Hazlitt’s infatuation with a servant girl, one Sarah Walker, his landlady’s daughter, in the year of his divorce from his wife. Hazlitt’s mordant narrative, couched as letters to two friends, spares neither himself, the blindly obsessed lover, nor the unworthy, out-classed, victimizing and victimized object of his love and lust. The little book is a classic of intimate autobiography, and a masterful, if perhaps initially unintentional exploitation of the ‘Pygmalion’ theme. ‘We are unusually close to a Romantic ideal of spontaneity … The letters, as they evoke and give lasting value to the writer’s emotions, form a kind of Romantic apologia’ (Jonathan Wordsworth, Visionary Gleam).

Keynes 67.

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