Paris: Chez Serviere, 1795. Complete set of 5 vols. 8vo. Contemporary French marbled calf, smooth spines gilt, red morocco labels (bindings refurbished, vol. 1 rebacked with original spine laid down). Collation: , viii, 416; 462; 506; 446; 487 pp. This copy does not contain the portrait which is cited on the title-page but was clearly never bound herein (not all copies contain it), and thus is priced accordingly. Very good. Item #1226
This five-volume set is of particular interest owing to the fact that the publisher's printed spine labels were not discarded by the binder, but were inexplicably retained, and were bound in at the end of vol. 2. While such survivals do occur in one- or two-volume sets, they are rarely found as here.
Political and Social Radicalism anticipating the French Revolution.
"Helvetius deserves our attention because he is one of the most important connecting links between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and particularly because he was the most widely read Mason. Moreover, he was translated into English, though his impact on English-language moral, legal, and political philosophy is rarely recognized." (Wooton, p. 308). Helvetius called for sugar to be boycotted as a protest against the slave trade; his "De l'Espirit" called for revolution; his "De l'Homme" attacked despotism, making him seem an enemy of all government; his views on prison reform inspired Beccaria's "Of Crimes and Punishments"; he sought agrarian justice; and much more.
This is the best and most complete of the collective editions of Helvetius, established after the manuscripts of the author by his literary executor, Lefebvre de La Roche, who wrote a very thorough 114-page essay on the life and works of this important philosopher. Our edition contains previously unpublished works, including 160 "Pensees et reflexions nouvelles." It was one of the first French editions to include writings from the 1777 London publication, including "Les Progres de la Raison dans la recherche du vrai." The importance of this edition is such that it was reprinted in facsimile by Georg Olms in 1967.
¶ CONTENTS: Vols. 1-2: Avis sur cette nouvelle edition, Essai sur la vie et les ouvrages d'Helvetius, De l'esprit. Vols. 3-4: De l'homme. Vol. 5: Diverses pieces: Le bonheur, Les progres de la raison dans la recherche du mal, Lettres de Voltaire a Helvetius (also includes Helvetius' correspondence with Hume and Montesquieu), Examen des critiques du livre intitule 'De l'esprit,' Les progres de la raison dans la recherche du vrai, etc.
¶ This is the only complete edition cited by Brunet. Cf. Tchemerzine III, p. 685.