Gio. Battista Balscopo [John Trotter] - Travels in Phrenologasto - Saunders and Otley, 1829, First Edition.


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London, Saunders and Otley, 1829. First edition, first impression. Hardback. A good copy. Not in Bleiler. Imaginary voyage. A satire on phrenology [Roberts, p96]. Apparently preceded by an 1825 edition published in India. The editor's preface to this English edition describes the author as "a young member of the East India Company's Civil Service in Bengal, who (in the year 1825) sunk at a very early age, under the influence of the climate of that country." The "translator" (i.e. Trotter) says that he was travelling in Bavaria when the landlord of an inn put the manuscript in his hands, saying that his servant had found it in a vineyard. The novel begins with Balscopo taking a voyage in a balloon from Ranelagh Gardens (he had learned the art from Blanchard); he falls asleep during the journey and eventually lands on the planet Phrenologasto which, he learns later, lies at about a tenth of the distance between the earth and the moon. The planet is inhabited by a race of Italian-speaking people with shaved heads painted white and "chalked out by black lines into a variety of little fields and enclosures, very much in the same style as we see a gentleman's estate in England laid down on a map." Balscopo meets the Lord Chamberlain who tells him that the race is descended from twelve Egyptians who devoted their lives to the study of craniology, and who, hundreds of years earlier, had constructed a balloon with the intention of sailing to the moon. Balscopo then travels about the planet in the company of a philosopher, discoursing with him on the variety of people they meet and examining their mental faculties as displayed by the shape of their heads. In the original boards. Spine tips and edges worn and rubbed. A pretty tight copy internally. [10468, Hyraxia Books].


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