The Commonwealth of Oceana. James Harrington.
The Commonwealth of Oceana

A Classic of Utopian Thought

The Commonwealth of Oceana.

London: Printed by J. Streater, for Livewell Chapman, and are to be sold at his shop at the Crown in Popes-Head-Alley, 1656.

First edition, variant with “Livewell Chapman” in the imprint. [12], 239, [1], 255-286, 189-210, [2] pp. Title page printed in red and black. Small folio. A Classic of Utopian Thought. Nineteenth-century quarter calf and marbled paper boards. Joints slightly rubbed; occasional spotting and browning to text. ESTC H809; Wing H816; Pforzheimer 449; Goldsmiths 3735; Kress 2225. Item #268077

A celebrated work of political philosophy, which had a profound influence on America’s founding fathers. "The written constitution, the unlimited use of the elective principle and the separation of powers are all points which may have been derived directly from the Oceana, while all the minor points of machinery, rotation, checks and balances, popular ratifications and special protection for the constitution seem to have been first formulated by Harrington" (A. E. Levett in Encyc. of Social Sciences).
Although the Dedication, signed by Harrington, is to Cromwell, and despite the fact utopia commonwealth is decidedly anti-monarchist, evidently fears of political repercussions led to the dispersal of the printing among three different printers, resulting in irregularities of typography and pagination. ESTC, alone among sources, calls for a frontispiece portrait, but if one was indeed ever issued with it, it is very rare. No copy at auction has ever appeared with one, and neither the Pforzheimer nor Huntington Library contains it.

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