The Nature of Things, a Didascalic Poem. Translated from the Latin of Titus Lucretius Carus: accompanied with commentaries, comparative, illustrative, and scientific; and the life of Epicurus… By Thomas Busby. In two volumes.

  • Lucretius
  • London: Printed, by Marchant and Galabin...for the author. 1813

£200

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Description

FIRST EDITION, 2 vols. bound as one, pp. vi, xix, [ii], viii-xvi (recte xii), viii, xxii, [ii], 76, xxxvi, [ii], 82, xlii, [ii], 84, xl; [iv], 99, [1], xl, [ii], 118, xl, [ii], 95, [1], xxviii, xix, [i] + engraved frontispiece in vol. 1. Half-titles discarded. Untrimmed in modern quarter morocco, marbled boards, black morocco label to spine. Somewhat spotted and soiled, intermittent dampmark to fore-margin, frontispiece foxed.

Notes

'The Nature of Things, Busby's translation of Lucretius's De rerum natura, on which he had been working for many years, was published in 1813. It gained him some notoriety and was much discussed, reviewed, and parodied' (ODNB). Busby's talent for promotion was the source of most of the controversy - the translation was for some time before publication 'puffed' in as many papers as possible, while Busby's son gave readings from the work in progress, and the prospectus was distributed and flyposted around London.
The quality of the translation also divided opinion: The Critical Review declared that Busby could take his place between (or possibly above) Dryden and Pope, while 'according to the Quarterly Reviewers, "The style is generally turgid and inflated; the poetical illustration is mostly dug for in the mine of Wakefield, and the earlier Latin critics; and the philosophy borrowed from Creech, who himself pilfered without scruple from Gassendi"' (Lowndes).

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