You'll need to Sign in or Create a free account before bidding.

Sorry, this lot is closed!

Fontenelle - Histoire des Oracles - 1785

Fontenelle - Histoire des Oracles - 1785

Very rare and highly sought-after edition of the “Histoire des Oracles”, published anonymously to avoid excommunication.
A daring and dangerous work because it criticises everyone, not only the ancient pagans, who attributed the oracles to their “false” gods (from the Christian point of view), but also Christians of all ages, who attribute them to demons and are influenced by witches and sorcerers.

An essay written by Fontenelle (1657-1757) in 1686, in which he denounces superstition by discrediting oracles, miracles, and questioning the supernatural: “Pythia, speaking in the name of Apollo, god of poetry, expresses herself in “ugly verses”. Predictions are “vague”, miracles are dubious. Fontenelle suggests that a work of “mystification” was under way.

Under his witty pen, a scholarly subject like the one concerning the silence of the oracles after the advent of Christianity becomes an opportunity to write an apology of the free rational examination against the abuses of superstition: inspired by a learned Latin treatise, thanks to a constant, light and polite (and prudent) use of the weapons of irony and allusion, Fontenelle transforms it into a brilliant libellous pamphlet, full of curious and extravagant examples, against the authority of tradition, against the unscrupulous exploitation of popular credulity, against the errors which the human spirit seems unable to resist.

A lovely edition (in a beautiful binding by Cazin) of this work, which was remarkably successful, “basically, it is an adaptation of that of Van Dale on the oracles of the ancients, written in Latin [...] Fontenelle can be considered a precursor of Free Thought”.

Coeval full leather binding with golden title and friezes on the spine. A beautiful copy with fresh and well printed inner parts. Marbled endpapers included. Well-bound text block. Pp.: (2) sheet, 212 - 142 The part of the poems was bound with its own layout.

Histoire des oracles... Augmentée d'un choix de poésies du même auteur.
A Londres (Paris), sans nom (Cazin), 1785
[Bernard Le Bouyer de Fontenelle] (1657-1757)

Object Book
Number of Books 1
Subject Esotericism
Author/ Illustrator Fontenelle
Book Title Histoire des Oracles
Condition Good
Publication year oldest item 1785
Edition 1st Edition Thus
Language French
Original language Yes
Publisher A Londres (Paris), sans nom (Cazin)
Binding/ Material Leather
Number of pages 358
Dimensions 134×93 mm
Not registered yet?
By creating your free Catawiki account, you’ll be able to bid on any of our 65,000 special objects up for auction every week.