Du contract social, ou, Principes du droit politique.

Milan, Pogliani, 1796.

8vo, pp. [4], 188; with Avertissement on the verso of the title-page; title-page a little spotted, else a clean, crisp copy in near-contemporary quarter calf, marbled boards, flat spine decorated and lettered in gilt; edges a little rubbed, a few scratches to the sides; contemporary pen monogram and a modern ownership inscription on the front free end-paper.


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First edition printed in Italy, very rare, of Rousseau’s Contrat social.

‘[Rousseau’s] fundamental thesis that government depends absolutely on the mandate of the people, and his genuine creative insight into a number of political and economic problems, give his work an indisputable cogency. It had the most profound influence on the political thinking of the generation following its publication. It was, after all, the first great emotional plea for the quality of all men in the state: others had argued the same cause theoretically but had themselves tolerated a very different government. Rousseau believed passionately in what he wrote, and when in 1789 a similar emotion was released on a national scale, the Contrat social came into its own as the bible of the revolutionaries in building their ideal state. Still in print, translated into every language in cheap editions and paperbacks, it remains a crucial document of egalitarian government’ (PMM 207, describing the original edition of 1762).

Dufour, 154; Sénelier, 719. No copies recorded in the UK, one in the US (Berkeley). OCLC finds 3 copies in Switzerland and one in Italy (Arco).

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