One of the most popular utopian novels of the 18th century.
[HOLBERG, Ludvig, Baron] Nicolai Klimii Iter subterraneum novam telluris theoriam ac historiam quintae monarchiae adhuc nobis incognitae exhibens e bibliotheca B. Abelini. Editio tertia auctio et emendatio. Hafniae et Lipsiae [Copenhagen and Leipzig]: Sumptibus Frid. Christian Pelt, 1754.
Small 8vo.; 4" x 6 1/2"; contemporary Eastern European binding of half leather, stained in black, over patterned paper-covered boards; edges stained red; engraved frontis., engraved title page, (4, folding map, + 2 engraved plates; + 66 (a – 5n8, single engraved plate, 6n – 2p8, 2 engraved plates, 3p – 6q8, single page engraved plate, 7q - z8); binding flaking along spine and bumped at corners, paper boards rubbed, all consistent with age; some previous ownership markings to free endpapers, and annotations to title-page, else internally a very clean copy, with some small smudges and spots throughout and some pages a little faded; a very uptogether example of a fragile work.
Third edition, enlarged and augmented. A highly influential utopian adventure, published just 15 years after Gulliver's Travels. It has since run to over 60 editions in 13 different languages.
Set in the Norwegian town of Bergen, a penniless student - Nicolas Klim - is compelled to visit a strange cave, carved into a mountainside above the town, which regularly sends out puffs of warm air. As he investigates, he falls into a void, ending up on the subterranean planet Nazar, which is inhabited by sentient monkeys, contemplative humanoid trees, a society of birds locked in eternal war, goat philosophers, and double basses which communicate musically with one another. The novel is, at its essence, satirical, though also remarkably progressive, with a society in which women and men occupy similar positions in public life - when it is suggested, by Klim, that women be removed from these roles, he is immediately sentenced to be exiled to the inner rim of the Earth’s crust.
The Subterranean Voyage of Nicolas Klim was Ludvig Holberg's only fictional work, initially published in 1741. It is arguably the the first fully-developed novel to be set in the earth's interior, and is certainly one of the first to use a Hollow Earth concept. The influences of Montesquieu and Voltaire (who Holberg admired enormously) are evident in his presentation of an enlightened Utopia, and his comparison with other less developed societies in the earth's core provide a direct parallel with his views on the political and socio-economic climate in 18th century Europe. Knowing that the work would be poorly received in his native Norway, it was first published in Germany, to great critical acclaim. It became one of the most popular novels of the 18th century, second only to Gulliver's Travels.