First Edition of Rousseau's Early Work on Equality
ROUSSEAU, Jean-Jacques. Discours sur l'origine et les fondemens de l'inegalité parmi les hommes. Amsterdam: Chez Marc Michel Rey , 1755.
First (original) edition, distinguishable from the counterfeit editions by the signatures on frontispiece and the spelling, "Jaques," on p. lii. Small octavo (8 x 5 inches; 202 x 127 mm). lxx, [2], 262, [2, errata] pp. Title-page printed in red and black. Copper-engraved frontispiece, signed by D[ominique] Sornique after C[harles Dominique Joseph] Eisen, engraved vignette on title and head-piece on dedication page by Fokke.

Nineteenth-century mottled calf, covers double-ruled in blind. Board edges ruled in gilt. Spine ruled and decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments. Red morocco spine label lettered in gilt. Marbled endpapers. All edges red. Previous owner's bookplate on front pastedown. Binding a bit tight. Internally very clean. Overall a very good copy.

One of Rousseau's earlier works, the Discourse is a critique of conventional and social relations and a strong defense of the individual. With its emphasis on the equality of all, it foreshadows his later work, the Contrat Social, which became the bible of the French Revolution.

The frontispiece depicts a group of "civilized" men contemplating a man in Rousseau's state of nature, the state of complete equality which was lost with the introduction of the trappings of civilization, such as industry, agriculture, and property.

Tchemerzine X, 32. Kress 5470. BM 22:25 (219). Norman 1850. Goldsmith 9064.

HBS # 67840 $2,850