SOMNIUM, SEU OPUS POSTHUMUM DE ASTRONOMIA LUNARI. DIVULGATUM À M. LUDOVICO KEPPLERO FILIO, MEDICINAE CANDIDATO. Sagan and Frankfurt: Sumptibus haeredum authoris, 1634. Small quarto (196 x 151 mm), two parts in one volume: pp. [1-4] 1-182 [183-184], title within typographical border, 6 woodcut diagrams in the text, woodcut head and tail pieces, modern full calf binding by Atelier Laurencet. First edition. A virtually unobtainable edition of a highly important early imaginary voyage to the Moon. "The 'Dream' is a curiously interesting tract for two reasons. First, its fantasy framework of a voyage to the Moon made it a pioneering and remarkably prescient piece of science fiction. Second, its perceptive description of celestial motions as seen from the Moon produced an ingenious polemic on behalf of the Copernican system." - DSB. The final part is Kepler's translation of, and commentary on, Plutarch's fantasy on the face of the Moon (see Nicolson, pp. 16-7). Kepler wrote SOMNIUM in 1609, circulating it in manuscript form, after which he amended and added to it, but the work was not published until after his death in 1630. "Around 1611, Kepler circulated a manuscript of what would eventually be published posthumously as SOMNIUM (A Dream), part of the purpose of which was to describe what practicing astronomy would be like from the prospective of another planet, and to demonstrate the feasibility of a non-geocentric system. The first version of SOMNIUM, a thesis rejected by the University of Tübingen in 1593, was shelved until 1609 when Kepler worked on developing it into its final form, a dream narrative with additional material on lunar geography. It was never published at the time, and during the 1620s Kepler, appreciating that it was too succinct and in need of further development, added 223 footnotes explaining the background theoretical physics and astronomy which expanded the text to several times its original length. He also included an essay on lunar geography with explanatory notes. Kepler died in 1630 and the compound manuscript was prepared for publication by his son Ludwig, together with Kepler's translation of Plutarch's 'The Face in the Moon' ... Kepler's SOMNIUM was first published at Frankfurt in 1634 ... The work remained little known for three centuries and was not reissued in the original Latin until 1969. It was first rendered into English in 1947 by Joseph Keith Lane as a thesis for a Master of Arts degree at Columbia University. This was never published. A partial translation of the basic document was made by Everett Bleiler in 1950, but it was not until 1965 that the first complete translation by Patricia Kirkwood was published by the University of California. The subsequent translation and commentary by Edward Rosen (1967, 2003), with its copious notes and introduction, is now regarded as definitive." - Howgego, Encyclopedia of Exploration: Invented and Apocryphal Narratives of Travel K2. "Ironically enough, the best of all supernatural voyages to the Moon was written by a great scientist. Kepler's SOMNIUM marks at once the end and the beginning of an era. No important later voyage will employ so fully the supernatural, yet none will be more truly 'scientific' than that 'Dream,' which was the fons et origo of the new genre, a chief source of cosmic voyages for three centuries." - Nicolson, Voyages to the Moon, pp. 41-7. "... Kepler's SOMNIUM has been very important in the early history of fantastic fiction." - Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years 1218. Anatomy of Wonder (1976) 1-22; (1981) 1-109; (1987) 1-54; (1995) 1-54; and (2004) II-590. Clute and Nicholls (eds), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993), p. 662. Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (1951), pp. 14-18. Versins, p. 493. First two leaves (title leaf and dedication leaf) affixed to stubs, dedication leaf closely trimmed, just touching letters on first line, margins of two leaves professionally repaired, faint old stamp on blank verso of title leaf, a very good copy overall. Enclosed in a custom quarter leather clamshell box. (#157025).
No statement of printing.