1624 · London
This influential translation of Tasso's La Gerusalemme liberata "done into English Heroicall verse" by Edward Fairfax (ca. 1580–1635) was much lauded in its day. The epic romance tells a fantastical version of a First Crusade battle between Christians and Muslims over the city of Jerusalem, involving woman warrior Clorinda as well as the titular Godfrey and assorted knights, lovers, witches and mermaids, etc. Fairfax's rather freely interpreted rendition, which Graesse describes as the best translation of Tasso ever done in any language to that point, was the first complete English translation of the work, and was originally published in 1600. It appears here in its second edition, with the frontispiece portrait of Godfrey — not found in all copies — and with an ornate woodcut title-page border incorporating grapevines as well as cherubs and architectural elements.
Provenance: Title-page with early inked inscription: "Phill Wenman"; first page of "The Life of Godfrey of Boulogne" with early inked inscription: "Phi. Wenman his Booke." Frontispiece verso, title-page, and one other page rubber-stamped by the Holbrook Library of the Pacific School of Religion (properly deaccessioned).
Evidence of readership: Intermittent, generally unobtrusive early inked marginal brackets and marks of emphasis, with one annotation reading simply "Milton" (at "Swift from my selfe I run, my selfe I feare, / Yet still my hell within my selfe I beare").
ESTC S117570; Graesse, VI, 35; NCBEL, I, 1103; STC (rev. ed.) 23699. Contemporary mottled calf framed in double blind fillets, rebacked with plain calf, spine with gilt-stamped leather title-label and gilt-ruled raised bands; sides predictably acid-pitted. Frontispiece cut down and mounted on contemporary fly-leaf. Institutional rubber-stamps as above, title-page recto with stamped numeral; pp. 81/82 excised and replaced in facsimile. Pages with light age-toning and cockling, occasional small smudges or spots; a few corners bumped. One leaf with tear from upper outer corner, not extending into text; four final leaves with closed tear in inner margin and small hole in text, affecting one to two letters of six lines of text without obscuring sense. A solid copy with appreciable history. (Inventory #: 36790)