An unbelievable survival of a landmark work
System der Wissenschaft. Erster Theil, die Phaenomenologie des Geistes.(The Phenomenology of Spirit)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Bamberg & Wurzburg, 1807
First edition, first issue - identifiable by leaf A1, the sub-title, stating “Erster Theil. Wissenschaft der Erfahrung des Bewusstseyns(Science of the Experience of Consciousness).” During the printing process, Hegel requested this be changed to “Wissenschaft der Phänomenologie des Geistes(Science of the Phenomenology of Spirit).”
UNCUT in publisher’s wrappers. Front cover with some stains, spine toned and moderately chipped. Interior with sporadic minor foxing, but still extremely fresh. Small stamp on the title page of the Schloss Buldern Castle library, founded in 1955 by the heir of Gisbert von Romberg III. Overall, an awe-inspiring Near Fine copy that’s survived as it was off the press, housed in a custom blue chemise and slipcase. Rebound copies do appear on the market with some regularity, but this copy is the pinnacle - the best that one could hope to possess. A once-in-a-generation, or even lifetime, occurrence, I’ve not seen any other wrappered copies in the commerce records. This is a copy truly deserving of the superlatives that are so often bandied about in the rare book world. The first edition, which comprised the two aforementioned issues, was a mere 750 copies, and released in April 1807.
Hegel finished the manuscript in October of 1806 under extreme pressure – his friend was on the financial hook to the publisher should the submission deadline not be met, and Napoleon had just captured his city. Phenomenology was Hegel’s first major work, and an introduction to his philosophical system - containing the famous analyses of the master/slave dialectic, the unhappy consciousness, and Sophocles’ Antigone. It ‘provides what can be called a “biography of spirit,” i.e., an account of the development of consciousness and self-consciousness in the context of some central epistemological, anthropological and cultural themes of human history.’(Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Hegel’s dialectical method would reverberate through the history of philosophy and most famously influence Karl Marx, who thought of economic and social history in terms of the Hegelian dialectic.
There are times in the journey of a book collector when magnitude and opportunity supersede their collecting focus. If you aren’t a philosophy buff, this is one of those moments. If you are a philosophy buff, this was a no-brainer acquisition the moment you saw the title and photos.
Hegel: A Biography, Terry Pinkard
Phenomenology of Spirit, Stephen Houlgate
Hegel, Robert Stern
The Birth of Romanticism, 1790-1815, Morse Peckham