Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is one of the most important figures in the history of European philosophy. 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. The whole pattern of Hobbes's intellectual life and personal friendships is set in a new light. This is one of the most significant and valuable scholarly publications of this century.
`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.'
Conal Condren, Parergon 15/1
`the publishing project of which it is a component makes this correspondence valuable
`he is il miglior fabbro, to whom all of us who try to make sense of Hobbes's work should now defer. There is nothing in his new edition of Hobbes's correspondence ... which is solidly based on real scholarship ... Malcolm has equipped his edition with excellent notes to each letter, with first-rate translations of those not in English, and, above all, with 150 pages of brief lives of the contemporaries mentioned in the letters ... Putting the lives
together in effect gives us a new biography of Hobbes himself ... one can feel nothing but gratitude for Malcolm's labours, and admiration at their outcome. Hobbes's philosophy will, for the first time, have a
real editor; and also one day, we can now hope, a real author
The Times Literary Supplement
`superbly edited volumes ... The fluency and elegance of this translation is a fair sample of Noel Malcolm's skill. He has rounded off his Herculean labours with a biographical register that will be of value to all students of 17th-century culture and indispensable to anyone interested in Hobbes
`superbly edited ... On the evidence of Noel Malcolm's editorship of these volumes his forthcoming biography should go as far as intelligence and sympathy and erudition can take us ... The fluency and elegance of this translation is a fair sample of Noel Malcolm's skill. He has rounded off his Herculean labours with a biographical register that will be of value to all students of 17th-century culture and indispensable to anyone interested in Hobbes
`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 ... impressive work of scholarship.
`These two volumes constitute the first collection of Hobbes's known correspondence, and their publication is therefore 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. The editor of these handsome volumes is a man whom Hobbes and his correspondents would have
recognised as someone of their own stamp: a fine scholar who nevertheless engages with the world outside the academy ... Noel Malcolm ... has done an outstanding job of translating ... A reading of the
letters and this elegantly written apparatus amounts to an education in the history of 17th century thought ... Interest in Hobbes has been steadily reviving in recent years, and Malcolm's magnificent edition of his correpondence will help to spur that process.
A C Grayling, Financial Times
`what comes out on almost every page of Malcolm's editing is the intensity and intellectual ambition of his own engagement with Hobbes's thinking. ... Noel Malcolm's edition is a most impressive achievement.
Times Higher Educational Supplement
`will be an enduring monument to one of England's greatest philosophers.
`In these two thick volumes, we witness yet another aspect of Malcolm's prodigious gifts. ... We are presented with a comprehensive and meticulous example of scholarship. ...To Malcolm's scholarship we already owe this sense of Hobbes: when the magisterial biography appears - we shall no doubt be much more indebted yet.
`This is the first complete collection of surviving correspondence from and to Hobbes. It may one day need to be supplemented if additional letters are discovered, but I think it can never be surpassed in the quality of the editing. 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.'
`In the course of his work on the correspondence, Noel Malcolm has developed an extraordinary familiarity with Hobbes's handwriting and that of his friends and associates ... Another reason for reading these volumes is to delight in Noel Malcolm's scholarship. He provides careful transcripts and sound translations ... Malcolm is the most discreet of editors, never intruding his own views.'
London Review of Books
`Another reason for reading these volumes is to delight in Noel Malcolm's scholarship. He provides careful transcriptions and sound translations (Hobbes wrote Latin as fluently as English): we expect as much.'
London Review of Books
`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 ... As for Malcolm's editing of the complex and sometimes difficult material, one can only describe it as exemplary. He is meticulous but not pedantic. His translations from the French and Latin are always lucid, and at times less cumbersome than the original ...
The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes will deservedly be a standard reference. Hobbes is already recognised as the foremost English philosopher of his time. This new volume reveals him as a first rate
correspondent as well. I eagerly await Volume II.'
Peter Anstey, University of Sydney
`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
`One may term it to be the most important advance in Hobbes scholarship made since the time of Tonnies. Practically all originals of the letters have been collated afresh, and Malcolm's precision work yielded in many cases more adequate readings compared with those of earlier editors. ... painstaking and most successful research.'
British Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol.5, no.1, 1997
`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
`students of Hobbes' work ... have often deplored the absence of a complete collection of his correspondence. In supplying this long felt need with the outstanding success of which this edition give proof, Noel Malcolm has made one of the most important and valuable contributions to Hobbes scholarship this century. / The editorial matter which Malcolm has provided makes this work a pleasure to use... Malcolm has taken great pains to present the letters in
accurate transcriptions, and the editorial notes, placed at the end of each letter, incorporate a large amount of necessary and useful information... An especially valuable feature of this edition is the
biographical register of Hobbes' correspondents, occupying close to 150 pages, which provides concise and very helpful accounts of both the well-known and litte-known persons with whom he exchanged letters.'
Perez Zagorin, University of Rochester and University of Virginia, Jrnl of the History of Ideas, Vol 60, No 2, April 1999