[NB in publicity materials use short description + first few review quotes if short of space] Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is one of the most important figures in the history of European thought. Although best known for his political theory, he also wrote about theology, metaphysics, physics, optics, mathematics, psychology, and literary criticism. All of these interests are reflected in his correspondence. Some small
groups of his letters have been printed in the past (often in inaccurate transcriptions), but this edition is the first complete collection of his correspondence, nearly half of which has never been
printed before. All the letters have been transcribed from the original sources, and all materials in Latin, French, and Italian are printed together with translations in clear modern English. The letters are fully annotated, and there are long biographical entries on all of his correspondents, based on extensive original research. These two volumes form one of the most significant and valuable publications of Hobbes scholarship this century, casting a new light on the
whole pattern of his intellectual life and personal friendships.
These volumes are a tour de force of scholarly care and are preliminary to a full modern biography for which they whet the appetite ... Malcolm has maintained original spelling, erasures, alterations and punctuation and noted all signs of blots and blemishes.
`This is the first complete collection of the correspondence of Hobbes and as such fills an important gap in the published writing of the man who is probably the most important political philosopher of the modern age. Noel Malcolm has done an admirable job of assembling and annotating the correspondence ... Scholars will find the correspondence an important tool for understanding the life and works of Thomas Hobbes.'
Review of Metaphysics
`an important literary and philosophical event . . . [the letters] open a window onto many aspects of the 17th-century world; anyone interested in history, literature, politics, philosophy, and the history of science will find them utterly absorbing.'
A. C. Grayling, Financial Times
`No one who hopes to understand the remarkable position which [Hobbes] came to occupy in the history of ideas will be able in future to ignore Malcolm's edition . . . a most impressive achievement'
John Dunn, THES
`these letters present a striking picture of the milieu of an extraordinary genius . . . Noel Malcolm rounds off these two beautifully produced volumes with succinct biographies of Hobbes's correspondents, written with the elegance, modesty and impeccable scholarship that characterise the edition as a whole.'
Roger Scruton, Sunday Telegraph
`one can feel nothing but gratitude for Malcolm's labours, and admiration at their outcome'
Richard Tuck, TLS
`The range and depth of Dr Noel Malcolm's scholarship are beyond praise and almost beyond belief . . . The book is essential reading for all serious students of Hobbes's life and thought.'
D. D. Raphael, Political Studies
`a meticulous and comprehensive example of scholarship'
Oliver Letwin, The Times
Richard Ollard, The Independent
`The appearance of these two volumes of correspondence is undoubtedly one of the most significant events of recent years not only in the field of Hobbes studies, but also in the more general area of seventeenth-century philosophical and scientific culture. . . . [the] rich editorial material contributes to the great scholarly value of the work.'
Andrea Napoli, BJHS
`The portrait of the man that emerges from this collection is fascinating and vibrant. . . . there is an enormous amount of interesting material in this work, both biographical and philosophical'
Peter Anstey, University of Sydney
`It is very rare that one comes away from studying a collected edition of the correspondence of a major philosopher with enhanced admiration for both the main author and the editor ... in the case of Noel Malcolm's superlative edition of the letters written and received by Thomas Hobbes, deep immersion in the detail of Hobbes's circle of correspondents reaps ample dividends on both counts: indeed it is not too much to say that our knowledge of Hobbes's
intellectual development is transformed by these volumes ... Behind these volumes lie indefatigable archival researches and a scrupulously self-effacing scholarship which modestly presents major pieces of
fresh interpretation in footnotes and appendices ... these volumes constitute one of the finest instances of nuanced historical scholarship in recent decades.'
English Historical Review
List of Abbreviations
Letters (till Letter 139)