Paris: Hypolite-Louis Guerin, 1731. First edition. Hardcover. 24mo (6 x 3 1/2"). , xxii, 562, xpp (Vol. 1); 628pp (Vol. 2). Original full spotted calf, with gold lettering and tooling to spine. Raised bands. Marbled endpapers. Publisher's device on title pages. Decorative headpieces and initials. Ribbon markers.
When first published in 1731, Jean Terrasson's fantasy novel "Sethos" knew a real success and popularized the notion of "Egyptian mysteries." Terrasson presents the story of Sethos as a work of fiction that he says he drew from a Greek manuscript of an unknown author, who himself would have drawn from Egyptian sources. In arguing that its composition is far before the deciphering of hieroglyphics, Egyptologists do not give it any historical value.
Terrasson helped to create the mystified image of a fictional ancient Egypt, the mother of science and knowledge, based on uncritical stories by Diodorus Siculus, an image to which several other writers had contributed before the deciphering of hieroglyphs, like Athanasius Kircher. This image was at the origin of pseudo-scientific theories, such as Afrocentrism, claiming that Greek knowledge comes from Egypt. This fiction elided Masonic and ancient Egyptian ritual, and served as an inspiration for Mozart and Schikaneder's Magic Flute.
Bindings partly rubbed, with some abrasion to leather at head and tail of spines. First volume with previous owner's name on inside of front free endpaper, and at verso of fly leaf. Closed tear at lower half of pages 513 to 526. Contemporary previous owner's signature at lower margin of last leaf. Title of second volume with previous owner's stamp dated 1792 along fore-edge. Text in French. Binding in overall good-, interior in good to very good condition. g- to vg. Item #43255
About the author: Jean Terrasson (1670-1750), often referred to as the Abbé Terrasson, was a French priest, author and member of the Académie française. The erudite Antoine Terrasson was his nephew. (From Wikipedia).