ABAC Member Highlights - Greenfield Books
JOHNSON, DR. SAMUEL [WRITING ANONYMOUSLY] . THE PRINCE OF ABISSINIA. A Tale in Two Volumes
London, R. & J. Dodsley, W. Johnston 1759, hb. 12mo, Leaf A2, vol. II, reads "Contents of the second volume". "Indiscerpible" p. 161, vol. II; pp. viii, 159; viii, 165.
This is the second edition of the work now universally known as "Rasselas", and it is almost in every respect identical with the extremely rare first edition issued a few weeks before it, on April 19, 1759. It is a philosophical novella which describes the life of Prince Rasselas and Nekayah, his sister, who are kept in a place called the Happy Valley in the land of Abyssinia. The Valley is a place free of problems, where any desire is quickly satisfied. The constant pleasure, however, does not lead to satisfaction; and, with the help of a philosopher named Imlac, Rasselas escapes and explores the world to witnes how all aspects of society and life in the outside world are filled with suffering. They return to Abyssinia, but do not wish to return to the state of constantly fulfilled pleasures found in the Happy Valley. "Rasselas" was written during the evenings of one week, in order for Johnson to raise enough money to bury his mother, and to pay some of her debts. It was published anonymously, and Boswell says of it that it contains "all the force and beauty of which the English language is capable". Our little set contains the Chippendale bookplate of John Buller, of Morval, and the signature of Anne Lennon, his wife (c. 1770), the predecessors of Sir Redvers Buller. Both volumes have been freshly restored and re-bound in full book calf with five raised bands to each spine. Vol. II contains final blank leaf (M4). The contents are clean throughout with only the very occasional spot of foxing. Overall, a magnificent set. ESTC T57339 and T139510.