One of the earliest Western works on suicide.
DONNE, John. Biathanatos. A Declaration of that Paradoxe, or Thesis, that Selfe-homicide is not so Naturally Sinne, that it may never be otherwise. John Dawson, .
Small 4to. Nineteenth century full mottled calf, gilt triple fillets to sides, gilt lettering to spine, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, recently rebacked with repair work to head and foot of spine; pp. 18, 192, 19, 192-218; lacking initial blank as often, including two leaves of 'Authors cited in this book' that are sometimes omitted, some wear to edges of binding, repair to title page, very good.
First edition, first issue.
This controversial work on suicide was one of Donne's earliest works and, although written in 1608, remained unpublished until well after his death in 1631, against the author's wishes. In it he "discusses with wonderful subtlety and learning the question whether under any conceivable circumstances suicide might be excusable." (D.N.B.), and such was his sensitivity to the difficult subject matter that he restricted readership of the manuscript to a very few friends during his lifetime. On its publication, it received the outcry that Donne had foreseen, being the subject of forceful rebuttals such as John Adams's An Essay concerning self-murther of 1700. Whether the book is to be taken at face value or, as Donne's own letters suggest, as an exercise in argument and provocation, this fascinating work has its place in history as the first book in the Western tradition to be written on suicide, even though it was published after John Sym’s Lifes Preservative Against Self-Killing (1637).
Keynes 47. Pforzheimer 292. Wing D1858.