Italy, by BECKFORD, William (1759-1844).

BECKFORD, William (1759-1844).

Italy, with Sketches of Spain and Portugal. By William Beckford, Esq. London, Richard Bentley, 1834.

First edition. Two volumes, 8vo (210 x 130 mm), pp. [iv], xvi, 371; xv, [i], 381, [1], both volumes a little sprung in places, gathering B in Vol. I loose, cracking at gathering E in Vol. II, some foxing in text, in contemporary or slightly later quarter green calf over green marbled boards, spines gilt.

First edition of Beckford’s wonderful letters from the Continent, written ‘in the bloom and heyday of youthful spirits and youthful confidence’ (Advertisement). The first volume focuses on his two visits to Italy, in a total of 31 letters, but it also contains thoughts on visits to Germany and the Low Countries, as well as to the French Alps, including a brief description of the Carthusian monastery la Grande Chartreuse. The second volume has 34 letters about Portugal and 18 letters about Spain.

'Had it been published as intended in 1783, instead of as late as 1834 in a revised version under the title Italy, with Sketches of Spain and Portugal, it would have been hailed as an ice-breaker, preparing the way for the nineteenth century's stylistic eclecticism' (Timothy Mowl, William Beckford, Composing for Mozart, 1998, p. 92).

Chapman, Bibliography of William Beckford, p. 65.

Keywords: English Literature
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