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From the Preface:
NOT often has a little book with a great reputation been so neglected by publishers as has the Philobiblon of Richard de Bury. Though generally cited as the first book written in praise of books, as it is admitted to be the most earnest plea in defense of book-collecting, it is singularly unknown even to book-lovers and has at times been out of print and even scarce.
First printed in Latin at Cologne in 1473 and reprinted from time to time during three hundred and fifty years, it was not translated into English until 1832. At that time John Bellingham Inglis published a translation anonymously through Thomas Rodd, Bookseller, London, in a small edition of about two hundred copies. The present issue is a reprint of this first translation, chosen partly as a tribute to the translator who first discovered this little classic to English readers, and partly because it was the only translation available, for reasons that will be obvious.
Two other translations have since been made, (one by Ernest C. Thomas and the other by Andrew Fleming West), with painstaking fidelity to texts obtained by a comparison of all known manuscripts.
It may be claimed for the Inglis translation, however, that with all its faults it is more spirited if not so accurate as the others. It was reprinted in an edition of 230 copies at Albany in 1861, and again by Morley, as part of a "Miscellany" in his "Universal Library," in 1888. Omitting this cheap reprint, which appeals in no way to the book-lover, and the privately printed Grolier Club edition, barely twelve hundred copies have found their way to the hands of English readers. This is offered as a sufficient excuse for the present edition, which disclaims for itself any attempt to go over anew in the introductory matter, the ground already so well covered by competent hands.
It was thought, however, that a few facts as to the author s life, and notes as to previous editions, gleaned from the best sources, would not be out of place. Acknowledgment is made to Thomas and West, to whose careful editing the reader is referred for more minute details.
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Bishop of Durham and bibliophile, Richard de Bury (1287-1345) was an influential figure during Edward III's reign. In 1832, the scholar and linguist John Bellingham Inglis (1780-1870) anonymously published this first English translation of Richard's treatise on book collecting, contemporary learning and scholarly practice.
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