Lettres d’un Cosmopolite by [COSMOPOLITE.]


Lettres d’un Cosmopolite a un Membre Belgique. 1781

First Edition. pp. [ii], [2] blank (conjugate with title), 52, small tear on pp. 45-46 where partially unopened page has been opened (with no loss), sewn in the original wrappers, chipped away at the spine, front wrapper lettered in ink, a little dust-soiled.

A scarce use of ‘Cosmopolite’, a word first coined by Diogenes the Cynic (c. 412-323 BC) from the Greek words ‘kosmos’ (the world, the universe) and ‘polites’ (citizen), used in this instance to describe an author. After a brief appearance in French literature in the sixteenth century, the word ‘Cosmopolite’ had largely fallen into disuse until the middle of the eighteenth century, when there was a surge in its use, both in describing otherwise anonymous authors and in defining fictional characters. In this instance, the word is used as a marketing plot, a self-conscious identification of the author with what was at this time an edgy word, much in vogue in enlightenment circles - a badge of honour denoting tolerance and enlightenment - in order to bridge the gap between nations, as this is essentially a piece of political propoganda written to further foreign relations between the Netherlands and America. At the heart of this letter is a discussion of nationhood, liberty and the present alliances and security of Amsterdam and Holland.

OCLC lists Middelburg, the Royal Library, Oldenburg, BN and Berlin.

Keywords: Continental Books
Print this page View basket Price: £400.00