ENTRETIENS SUR LA PLURALITÉ DES MONDES. Paris: Chez la veuve C. Blageart, Court-neuve du Palais, au Dauphin, 1686. Small octavo, pp. [i-xxviii]  2-359 [360: blank], inserted folded plate with illustration by J. D'Olivar, early brown calf, spine panel lettered and richly tooled in gold, gauffered edges. First edition. Fontenelle's ENTRETIENS SUR LA PLURALITE DES MONDES, his most famous and frequently reprinted and translated book, was first published in 1686. This very important semi-utopian analysis of the universe is "the first example in French of a learned work placed within the reach of an educated but non specialized public." - DSB, V, 59. A popular account of the systems of Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe in dialogue form, the treatise "awakened general interest in astronomy and popularized the scientific system of inquiry; it also emphasized the small space occupied by man and this planet relatively to the rest of the universe. The work was ridiculed by Voltaire, though it suggested his MICROMEGAS." - The Oxford Companion to French Literature (1959), p. 278. Fontenelle's book "became a seminal influence on proto science fiction ... This is one of the earliest works ever written popularizing science, notably astronomy, for the layman, which it does by wittily presenting its speculations -- many about the possibility of life on other worlds -- in the form of conversations after dinner between the author and a marquise." - Clute and Nicholls (eds), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993), p. 437. See Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (1951), pp. 22-4 and Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Men in Space (1968), pp. 21-2 for a good summary of the book. Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years, p. 853. Howgego, Encyclopedia of Exploration: Invented and Apocryphal Narratives of Travel F16. Negley, Utopian Literature: A Bibliography 368. Versins, Encyclopédie de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires, et de la Science Fiction, pp. 341-42. Some professional refurbishing of calf, several tiny ink smudges to folded plate, a clean, tight, very good copy. An exceptionally nice copy of this classic. Enclosed in a custom velvet lined clamshell box with rounded leather spine. (#157008).
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