De L’Esprit.

  • [HelvĂ©tius, Claude Adrien]
  • Paris: Chez Durand... et se vend A Francfort, Chez Jean George Eslinger 1768


SKU: 3884 Category: Tag:


3 vols, 8vo, pp. 381, [1]; 340; 252, [28]. Contemporary tree calf, spines divided by gilt rules, red and green morocco labels to spines. Poor-quality paper a little toned and spotted. Rubbed, a few small stains, spine heads slightly chipped. Armorial bookplates of Edward, Earl of Powis to front pastedowns, old stickers to head of spines numbered in ink.


An early reprint of this scandalous enlightenment philosophy text, first published in 1758. De L'Esprit was condemned by the church, denounced as heretical and publicly burned in Paris for its atheism, as Helvetius argues that concepts of good and evil are taught rather than innate. The resulting furore ensured its success and it was translated into English the following year, where it later proved influential on the work of John Stuart Mill. This edition (possibly with a false Paris imprint?) is scarce outside of Germany, with single copies in France and Belgium and a handful in anglophone countries located by Worldcat. This copy belonged to Edward Clive (1754-1839), the 1st Earl of Powis and son of Clive of India.

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