Of the Nature of Things by Titus Lucretius Carus (1957)
LEC #278/25th Series V. 11 in 1957
Artwork: Woodcuts by Paul Landacre
Translated by William Ellery Leonard. Introduction by Charles E. Bennett
#495 of 1500. Heritage Press reissued.
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Front Binding – Hello everyone! We’re back with a new post that isn’t a Shakespeare; in fact, we have several books on tap over the next few months to keep the blog quite busy! Today brings forth an intriguing book; the didactic poem that explores physics and the universe by Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus, Of the Nature of Things (De rerum natura). Easily Lucretius’ best known work, Of the Nature of Things is given a rather nice treatment by the Limited Editions Club. This would be the sole literary work either Club would issue, and the Heritage Press did choose to reprint it themselves.
In the six books Lucretius explores the known laws and principles of the world around him, positing theories and waxing upon the rules that govern the Earth and the cosmos..but in verse. I haven’t read it, but it sounds like a fascinating blend of science and the arts, and I look forward to giving it a chance soon.
Woodblock illustrator Paul Landacre performed the artistic duties on this book, the second commission he received (the first was for Ambrose Bierce’s Tales of Soldiers and Civilians in 1943). He is the perfect choice for this book, as his ethereal woodcuts give the atomic musings of the poetic words of Lucretius some visual splendor well deserving of the work. Landacre would come back for another scientific watermark, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1963, but he had passed away before the book was issued.
Design Notes – Unfortunately this book doesn’t have a Letter in Devotee storage for me to reference, but I can tell you that Ward Ritchie designed the book, which was subsequently printed by The Ward Ritchie Press by Anderson, Ritchie and Simon. Ward is renowned in the book publishing world for his excellence in the craft, but I believe this is the first edition we’ve seen of the press on the blog thus far. Landacre’s woodblock prints were taken directly from his engravings.
Title Page – The text is translated into English by William Ellery Leonard. This wasn’t the first time the LEC utilized his talents, as he also handled Beowulf. Charles E. Bennett stepped in to introduce the text.
Colophon – This is #495 of 1500, and was signed by Landacre.
Examples of the Woodcuts by Landacre (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This is the first of a second set of five books generously donated to me by a fellow Devotee who is passing along duplicates for me to spotlight here on the blog. Words really cannot express how awesome and kind this individual is for helping me out like this! And this is a lovely addition to my library!