(London: James Fraser, 1837).
VERY SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF THIS HIGHLY IMPORTANT WORK. Probably Carlyle's most brilliant study, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION is not so much a history as a succession of pictures, or poems in prose, featuring an abundance of demons to hate and a few heroes to admire. Charles Kendall Adams, the author of A MANUAL OF HISTORICAL LITERATURE (1888), states that "Every student of the Revolutionary period should read the book" and calls it "probably the most remarkable work ever written on the Revolution," though he suggests that it be read in conjunction with "a work of more commonplace merits."
Printing and the Mind of Man has even more to say- ""Of the three great political upheavals which have altered the face of the earth-the American, French and Russian Revolutions-only the French has stimulated literary masterpieces which, in turn, have made their impact, direct and indirect, upon millions of readers who would have, and have, left unread the productions of dispassionate scholarship. They are Carlyle's book and the 'History of the French Revolution' by Michelet... The result is not a work of scholarship but a prose epic, teeming with colorful scenes of dramatic events and imaginative portraits of the leading revolutionaries. The book at once captured the English-speaking world, and has, outside France, moulded popular conceptions of the French Revolution down to the present day"
Carlyle happened upon the idea of writing a general history of the French Revolution when John Stuart Mill, a friend of his, found himself caught up in other projects and unable to meet the terms of a contract he had signed with his publisher for just such a work. Mill therefore proposed that Carlyle produce the work instead; Mill even sent his friend a library of books and other materials concerning the Revolution, and by 1834 Carlyle was working furiously on the project. When he had completed the first volume of his epic account, Carlyle sent his only completed manuscript of the text to Mill, whose maid famously mistook it for trash and had it burned. It was said that Carlyle then rewrote the entire manuscript from memory, achieving what he described as a book that came "direct and flamingly from the heart." Item #31604
3 volumes. First edition, complete with half-titles and ad leaf in Volume II as called for; one of 1000 copies so printed. 8vo, in very handsome contemporary bindings of three-quarter tan calf over marbled boards, back edge and corner-pieces tooled in blind, the spines with blind-ruled raised bands, one compartment with gilt volume numbers, a second with black morocco labels gilt ruled, stippled and lettered. vii, , 404; vii, , 422, ; vii, , 448 pp. A fine and handsome set, internally fresh and clean. The antique bindings handsome and sturdy, Volumes I and III expertly rebacked but preserving the original morocco labels and matching the second volume skillfully and unobtrusively, the calf colour as identical.
(London: James Fraser, 1837).