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The Ruins, Or, Meditation on the Revolutions…
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The Ruins, Or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires: And the Law of… (1791)

by C. F. Volney

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"Through this work I obtained a cursory knowledge of history, and a view of the several empires at present existing in the world; it gave me an insight into the manners, governments, and religions of the different nations of the earth. I heard of the slothful Asiatics; of the stupendous genius and mental acuity of the Grecians; of the wars and wonderful virtue of the early Romans--of their subsequent degeneration--of the decline of that mighty empire; of chivalry, christianity, and kings. I heard of the discovery of the American hemisphere, and wept with Safie over the hapless fate of its original inhabitants.

These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle, and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with disgust and loathing."

- Frankenstein, Volume II, Chapter VI
1 vote FrankensteinsMonster | Oct 27, 2012 |
A rare paperback edition of the Jefferson-Barlow translation published by Peter Eckler in 1915. Front cover has a unique image of pyramids and Sphinx. Only copy I have ever seen--I suppose because few paperback editions survive. Includes Law of Nature and Volney's Answer to Dr. Priestly. Long list of other Eckler books at the back. Purchased on eBay for a song!
  ThomasCWilliams | Aug 3, 2012 |
Belonged to John H. Guy, Captain of the Goochland Light Infantry Battery, which surrendered at Fort Donelson in 1862. Guy was taken prisoner. His signature on front pastedown and title page. Plus several sheets of Latin notes. "West & Johnson, 145 Main Street, Richmond Virginia" seal on first blank page. All of the above yet another example of the far-reaching influence of Thomas Jefferson's translation on American history...
  ThomasCWilliams | Sep 22, 2011 |
I do not agree with every assertions made in this book, but Volney researched the subject thoroughly, and included some great information. ( )
  crochetingbridgett | Nov 3, 2010 |
A then-unknown Honore de Balzac published Volney's Ruins in 1827 even though the book had been banned by Louis XVIII during the Restoration. Balzac editions are very, very rare. Note for collectors: in very small print at the bottom of the title page you should see this text: "Imprimerie de H. Balzac, rue des Marais S.-G., N. 17."
  ThomasCWilliams | Sep 12, 2010 |
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To suggest that the ancestors of Africans being sold into slavery could have founded the underlying principles of the Arts, the Sciences, Literature, and even Religion was as revolutionary in Volney's day as it is today. However, it was not Volney's sole intent to stir the fires of revolution.
Volney's wrilings reveal his preoccupation with understanding the workings of the universe and the role man creates for himself in thai universe. It is dear to Volney thai someone, obviously not the Europeans of his time and certainty not the Greeks of so- called ancient time, had studied the universe and maslered many of its deepest secrets. Volney was unafraid to give deserved credit for this accomplishment to people darker than himself.
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