Die Schönheiten des Winters historisch und physikalisch abgeschildert. WINTER –, Simon HÄRTER.

Die Schönheiten des Winters historisch und physikalisch abgeschildert. Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1756.

8vo (170 x 100 mm.). [12], 292 pp. Typographic title ornament, woodcut and typographic head-pieces and tail-piece. Some light spotting and discoloration, small light dampstain to some upper blank corners, but a nice copy. Old signature on title. Contemporary half vellum, sides with speckled paper, red edges.***

Only Edition. Winter’s stark beauties are precisely described by a writer of deep learning and broad interests. Citing literature and the classics (including Pindar, Hesiod, Aristophanes, and Homer in Greek), as well as contemporary sources, from scientific journals to travel accounts, the author examines the seasons, the meteorological manifestations of winter, its effect on humans, and its aesthetic and bodily pleasures. He discusses “absolute cold,” the causes of wind, snow’s qualities and colors, superstitious beliefs in its healing powers, frost and hoarfrost, avalanches, glaciers, ice and its different qualities, chemical experiments for manufacturing artificial ice, and physiological and physical effects of winter and cold on animals, for example, whose fur changes color; on humans, when they freeze to death or nearly so; or on windowpanes which “sweat” with condensed moisture.

The seventh and final chapter, on the “various pleasures of winter” contains a well-informed digression into music and opera, with an appraisal of celebrated contemporary composers, instrumentalists, and singers, including Händel, Porpora, G. Giacomelli, Predieri, Farinelli, Caffarelli, Francesca Cuzzoni, the violinist Guignon, the viola da gambist Desmarets, and the flutist Blavet. Härter praises opera copiously, but cites at length some of the many contemporary diatribes against opera, by Gottsched, Pluche and others, who deplored its irrational and amoral pleasures; he concludes that neither adoration nor scorn of the opera are reasonable, but that it can be a legitimate wintry pleasure. In the final pages he considers the spiritual benefits of winter, so conducive to introspection, and, in his concluding remarks, recommends it as the best season for experiments in electricity.

The work is dedicated to Otto Christian von Lohenschiold (1720-1761), Rector of the Academy (University) of Tübingen. In a humorous preface the author’s friend Johann Kies, Professor of physics and mathematics at Tübingen, and author of several physics treatises including a dissertation on the rainbow, concedes that, unwilling to be reminded of a season that he loathes, he could not bring himself to read the book, but should his friend write a treatise on one of the other seasons he promises to read it!

Rare: no copies listed in OCLC; KVK locates 3 copies in Germany, of which one (Berlin SB) lost in the war. Holzmann-Bohatta VI, 7444 (citing place of publication as Tübingen). Item #2053

Price: $980.00

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