First edition of Descartes’ Letters to the Princess Elizabeth and to Mersenne preserved in their superb contemporary vellum binding.
DESCARTES, René. Epistolae Amsterdam, Blaeu, 1682-1683.
3 parts in 1 volume 4to [220 x 165 mm], full dutch vellum, blind-stamped fleuron in the center of the covers, spine ribbed, sprinkled edges. Contemporary binding by the editor Blaeu.
Complete first edition of Descartes’ Latin letters to the princess Elizabeth and to Mersenne. The 3rd volume, composed of 8 preliminary ll. + 427 pages contains the sequel of Descartes’ Latin correspondence and is published here for the first time.
For several years, from 1642 to the end of 1649, that is to say during the period of his life that goes from the “Meditations on First Philosophy” to his death in Stockholm, René Descartes (1596-1650) exchanged a constant correspondence with the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and king of Bohemia.
This correspondence is of a great interest because, regarding the questions of his interlocutor, Descartes finds himself brought to take up again some of his problems and give a clearer and more complete report than in his works; but above all, this is the only direct document that helps us to know him in his privacy and, in him, the man and not only the philosopher. “We learn that he had planned to write a “Treatise about erudition”; we gain interesting details about the remote life, dedicated to study and meditation, that he led in Holland, and about the few months he spent at Christina of Sweden’s court”..
Descartes also writes to Mersenne, improvising answers to innumerable questions with an extraordinary easiness.
A superb copy preserved in its contemporary Dutch vellum.