TOCQUEVILLE, Alexis de (1805-1859)
De la Démocratie en Amérique
Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1840. 4 volumes in two, octavo. (8 1/4 x 5 1/8 inches). Final blank at the end of part I, vol.I. 1 folding hand-coloured lithographic map bound at the end of the first volume. (Lacking half titles. and final blank to vol.III, the folding map backed onto silk at an early date).
Contemporary light brown calf by Robert Seton of Edinburgh, the covers with border made up from fillets in gilt and blind, the spines in six compartments with raised bands, light brown morocco lettering-pieces in the second compartment, dark brown morocco in the third, the first compartment with Northern Light Board gilt stamp, the others uniformly panelled in gilt, marbled endpapers
Provenance: Northern Lighthouse Board (Scotland, binding)
A fine set containing the final revised text for both parts of Tocqueville's famous classic: the very rare eighth edition of the first part and the third edition of the second.
From the time of its first publication, Democracy in America enjoyed the reputation of being the most acute and perceptive discussion of the political and social life of the United States ever published. This set contains the first publication of Tocqueville's text in its final revised form, since he revised each successive edition of part I from the first through the eighth, and did the same with the first three editions of part II. Beginning with the ninth edition of 1842, the work was issued as a complete uniform edition, and there were no further revisions. The origins of the book lie in the observations Alexis de Tocqueville made during a nine month tour of the United States starting in the spring of 1831. He was accompanied by his friend and fellow student, Gustave de Beaumont, and their original goal was to study the penitentiary system of the United States. After visiting prisons in the East, they undertook a tour of the South as far as New Orleans, ascended the Mississippi, visited the Great Lakes and Canada, and returned via New York. After writing their report on prisons, Tocqueville worked on the first part of Democracy in America in 1833-1834, publishing it in Paris in 1835 to great acclaim. The 1840 second part was equally as successful, the book remained in print throughout the 19th century: there were probably more than fifty editions in English and French published before 1900, besides numerous other translations. Remarkably, it has sustained its appeal generation after generation, as new readers find it speaks to their time with a contemporary voice. Whether perceived as a textbook of American political institutions, an investigation of society and culture, a probing of the psyche of the United States, or a study of the actions of modern democratic society, the book has continued to offer insight and provoke thought since its inception. It has also probably provided commentators and politicians with more quotations than any other work.
Clark III:111; cf. Howes T-278 & T-279; cf. Sabin 96060 & 96061; Library of Congress, A Passion for Liberty, Alexis de Tocqueville on Democracy & Revolution (Washington, 1989); Nolla De la Démocratie en Amérique (Paris: 1990) II, pp.334-335.