Third edition. 5 vols. 12mo. 4.25 x 7 inches. Vol. I, xii + 303 pp. +  pp. index; Vol. II, xii + 312 pp. +  pp. index; Vol. III, vi + 322 pp. +  pp. index; Vol. IV, xx + 317 pp.  +  pp. index; Vol. V, xxiv + 368 pp. +  pp. index. Vols. I-IV dated 1766, Vol. V, 1765. Decorated with head and tailpiece vignettes. Bound in original calf, gilt; spine in compartments with raised bands, gilt with contrasting maroon title labels. A fine set in the original bindings.
A sharply observed critique of the governments and institutions of Europe and the Mediterranean (encompassing the Ottoman Empire, including Jerusalem, and North Africa). It is written in the format of an epistolary novel, consisting of two hundred letters between three named rabbis, giving the author the opportunity to make detached comments on religious belief and practice in the Christian world, e.g. when he is discussing clerical attire: ‘The Dress and Countenance of the Presbyterians, especially of their Preachers, answers exactly their true Character; they walk gravely, and with a very stiff Air; their Heads and Faces are in a manner hid by overgrown Hats, and their Shoulders covered with a most enormous large Cloak.’ D’Argens also discusses the art and culture of his native France and adds some interesting observations on beliefs in vampirism in the Belgrade area. .Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d’ Argens (1704-71) was a French philosopher and writer, born in Aix-en-Provence. He spent many years in exile, as an opponent of the Catholic Church and all forms of intolerance and religious oppression. He lived a year in Constantinople and then moved to Amsterdam, where he wrote the Lettres juives (first published in The Hague, 1735-37) and Lettres chinoises (1739-42) before spending the greater part of his career at the Berlin court of Frederick the Great of Prussia. He was a friend of Voltaire, Casanova and other notables and wrote several other philosophical works, in addition to six novels. The first English translation was published 1739-40 and the second edition in 1744. The subversive nature of the work made quite an impact and there were several translations and numerous pirated editions in French. This third edition is scarce, with ESTC recording only two UK copies in the British Library and Oxford, and another dozen overseas.
Author DE BOYER, JEAN-BAPTISTE. MARQUIS D’ARGENS
Publisher Printed for A. Miller, J. Rivington, R. Baldwin, W. Johnston, and A. Shuckburgh.
Condition A fine set