Second U.S. Edition. Very Good. Item #5394
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1884. Second U.S. Edition. 24mo; 60pp +12pp ads. Rebound in mid-20th century blue patterned cloth with spine stamped in gilt. From the library of author, Presidential Speechwriter, and language maven William Safire.
Originally published in 1855 and intended as a Portuguese-English phrase book, the translation quickly became widely known for its unintentional humor and presumed use of translation-by-dictionary. Mark Twain, in his introduction to the 1883 introduction (not included in this edition), says “this celebrated little phrase-book will never die while the English language lasts. Its delicious unconscious ridiculousness, and its enchanting naivete, as are supreme and unapproachable, in their way, as are Shakespeare's sublimities. Whatsoever is perfect in its kind, in literature, is imperishable: nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect, it must and will stand alone: its immortality is secure.”
The book was cited by Doris Kearns Goodwin in Team of Rivals as a light-hearted diversion for Lincoln during his cabinet’s in-fighting.
Handmade bookplate affixed to flyleaf reads, “The Last political Prisoners Unconditionally Released by the United States. December 22. 1923,” followed by a quote from The Tempest, “This Music Crept By Me Upon the Waters.” The former quote appears to be a reference to 27 IWW sympathizers who were imprisoned in 1919 under the Espionage Act. They were released on December 22, 1923 after a pardon by Calvin Coolidge. Rubbing to extremities. Pencil markings to front free endpaper. Pages toned at edges, binding is sound.