THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF PETER WILKINS, A CORNISH MAN. RELATING PARTICULARLY, HIS SHIPWRECK NEAR THE SOUTH POLE; HIS WONDERFUL PASSAGE THRO' A SUBTERRANEOUS CAVERN INTO A KIND OF NEW WORLD ... TAKEN FROM HIS OWN MOUTH, IN HIS PASSAGE TO ENGLAND, FROM OFF CAPE HORN, IN AMERICA, IN THE SHIP HECTOR ... By R. S. a Passenger in the Hector [pseudonym]. London: Printed for J. Robinson, at the Golden Lion, in Ludgate-street; and R. Dodsley, at Tully's Head, in Pall-Mall, MDCCLI [1751, i.e. 3 December 1751]. 12mo, two volumes: [1-4] [i-ii] iii-xiii [xiv-xxiv]  2-287 [288: blank] [289-292: ads]; [i-iii] iv-xi [xii]  2-295 [296-300: ads], six inserted plates, one folded, with engravings by Boitard, eighteenth century full mottled calf, brown leather title label affixed to the spine panels, five raised bands ruled in gold. First edition. First published in London on 3 December 1750 (title page postdated 1751). One of the classic imaginary voyages of English literature. The hero finds an entry into a subterranean world inhabited by a race of winged humans and mates with one who subsequently bears a half-dozen children. "For a century after this book's appearance Peter Wilkins was a figure of popular culture comparable to Lemuel Gulliver and Robinson Crusoe. Wilkins' story was admired by numerous critics throughout the nineteenth century starting with Coleridge. Edmund Gosse called it 'a minor classic.' Its fall from esteem since then may have something to do with a misunderstanding of its nature: it is not primarily satirical, like Swift's work, or existential, like Defoe's, but rather utopian -- a more perishable quality. Gibson and Patrick ("Utopias and Dystopias, 1500-1750" in Gibson, St. Thomas More: A Preliminary Bibliography (1961) 744) argue that its hero transforms his new world from a 'slave-state into a progressive, capitalistic, efficient empire, free from superstition ... less a utopia than an imaginative imitation of eighteenth-century England's better features.' But this could be said of all utopian and dystopian romances, that they are not telescopes so much as mirrors. Also, Gulliver and Crusoe remain bachelors, which brings their fate more in line with the sense of barrenness and isolation endemic to much of modern Western culture." - Robert Eldridge. "A very entertaining book ..." - Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years 1749. Anatomy of Wonder (1976) 1-36; (1981) 1-135; (1987) 1-73; (1995) 1-73; and (2004) II-840. Gibson and Patrick, "Utopias and Dystopias, 1500-1750" in Gibson, St. Thomas More: A Preliminary Bibliography (1961) 744. Gove, The Imaginary Voyage in Prose Fiction, pp. 320-27. Lewis, Utopian Literature, p. 143. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy Volume II, p. 11. Negley, Utopian Literature: A Bibliography 884. Nicolson, Voyages to the Moon, pp. 136-43. Bleiler (1978), p. 162. Reginald 11157. Professionally rebacked to style. Internally excellent throughout, plates are sharp and clean, overall a remarkably nice set in a handsome contemporary binding. (#167453).
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