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London, Printed for L. Davis and C. Reymers, 1766, 1st Edition. Hardcover, 8vo 8" - 9" tall, [ii] vii [i] 123 pp. Recent quarter calf over marbled boards with fiver raised bands on spine and contrasting spine label bearing gilt titles, internally clean and bright, collation matches that given by the ESTC (ESTC T4124)
John Cleland (1710-1789) is best known for his erotic novel "Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure". Cleland claimed to have written most of it while living in Bombay, where he was working for the East India Company, and that he'd written it to prove to a colleague that it was possible to write about a prostitute without using vulgar language. However the work was not completed until 1748, at which time Cleland was in prison for non-payment of debts. The book seems to have solved Clelands financial problems but did lead to his prosecution for the production of an obscene work. He went on to write a number of other novels, several plays (which were never produced) and a series of linguistic treatises, of which this is the first. In them he explored the celtic roots of English words, suggested links between Welsh and Hebrew, with the implication of the later being derived from the former, and plagiarized an account of Sanskrit by an earlier author. Clelands linguistic theories lack basis in fact and reflect the author's biases and idiosyncracies.