PHILOSOPHY REBRANDED, WITH FAKE LONDON IMPRINT

Il filosofo del nord, ovvero Corso di morale filosofia. 

‘Londra’ [i.e. Venice], [Zatta], 1788. 

8vo, pp. [2], 375, [1 (blank)]; title copper-engraved; a beautiful, clean copy; uncut in contemporary carta rustica, spine lettered in ink, sewn two-on on two tawed thongs.

£950

Approximately:
US $1204€1111

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Il filosofo del nord, ovvero Corso di morale filosofia. 

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First edition under this title of this course of moral philosophy, broadly construed, in which the author attempts to invoke the authority of the ‘philosophers of the North’ (inter alia Hobbes, Bacon, Clark, and Addison on one side of the English Channel, Bayle, Pascal, La Mettrie, Grotius, and Formey on the other) to lend weight to his prescriptions to an Italian public. 

The work, in three parts, is divided into twenty-six lessons.  Among the topics are the superiority of contemporary moral philosophy over that of the ancients, the difference between moral philosophy and religion, the ways of judging virtue, the importance of exercise and bodily health, the duty to live sociably, the government (and acknowledgement) of the passions and the appetites, the duty to educate children, especially the very young, the obligations imposed by marriage.  Of particular interest is what the author recommends we read: apologetics by Samuel Clarke, Houtteville, and Galateri, but also Rollin on Roman history, the Scienza della legislazione of Filangieri, and Derham’s Astrotheology.  The reader should also keep abreast of periodicals, Il Caffè for one; and read Thompson’s Seasons, and Richardson’s Clarissa and History of Charles Grandisson (‘ma come?  Della cattedra filosofica si propongono da studiare romanzi!  Si!  Quando sono opere d’un Richardson io riguardo il raccomandarli un dovere’). 

The text of this work had in fact appeared previously in 1785, under the less alluring title Lezioni di Filosofia Pratica Recate da Straniero Idioma ai Giovani Italiani Bramosi della Propria Felicità.  Zatta clearly felt that a snappier title and a fake London imprint would improve the works chances of success, and this edition is in fact a reissue of the earlier sheets, but without the introduction; the scarcity of both issues suggests that Zatta’s optimism may have been misplaced. 

Not in Melzi.  We find three copies in the UK (BL, Bodley, CUL) and none in the US; OCLC locates only one copy of the 1785 Lezioni outside Italy, at Ticino. 

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