2 MORELLY, E.G/The shipwreck of the floating islands/ Virtual Fa

Description: The shipwreck of the floating islands loaded with the vices of the world

[MORELLY, Etienne-Gabriel].
Naufrage des isles flottantes; ou Basiliade du célébre Pilpai. Poéme heroique. Traduit de l'indien par Mr. M******

A Messine (Paris), Par une Société de Libraires, 1753. 2 vols. 12mo. Contemporary marbled calf with triple gilt lines along the edges, spines gilt in compartments with red morocco title label lettered in gold, marbled endpapers. Engraved allegorical frontispiece with the portrait of the 'author/translator', titles printed in red and black, two engraved title vignettes. (2), XLI, (1), 216; (4), 307 pp.

Original edition of one of the most important utopias of the eighteenth century, generally considered as the earliest predecessor of communism, written by Etienne-Gabriel Morelly, a somewhat mysterious writer of whom hardly anything else is known than that he was born in Vitry-le François and that he pretends to have translated this work from a book written by the Indian philosopher Pilpai. Our copy contains the portrait on the frontispiece looking to the right. Chinard claims that the copies with this portrait belong to the first issue. There are copies with the portrait looking left, containing, however, only XXXVII pp. of preliminaries in the first vol. According to others these copies belong to the first issue.

Morelly is considered as one of the earliest founders of communism. In this work Zeinzemin, the hero of the Basiliade, is reigning in the middle of the Oceans on a happy island where the inhabitants are living in innocence and in accordance with nature far from the temptations, evils and crimes of our world. Men and women live in small communities avoiding all kinds of property, 'the mother of all crimes'. The happy state is vegetarian and established in accordance with an excellent morality based on the community of property. Social live in the communities is described as a feast without the hardships of crime, prostitution, war, etc., making the Basiliade a hymn of praise of natural and social love.
Trousson points to the fact that Morelly's communism is of a negative sort: their is no marriage, no property, no police, no church, no privileges, etc. It is, in fact, an anarchist state, ruled only by the laws of nature, a society without any contract whatsoever and far from the 'Contract Social' of Rousseau. Nothing is forbidden since one can not make any mistakes or do wrong if one follows the rules of nature (or better, nothing wrong can exist for those who live according to nature). The majority of the ideas in this 'poem in prose' were later further elaborated and systematized in Morelly's Code de la Nature (1755), in the eighteenth century also attributed to Diderot and printed in his Oeuvres (1773). In 1841 the work was re-edited by F. Villegardelle with the title Code de la Nature, augmentée de fragments importants de la Basiliade, avec l'analyse du système social de Morelli.
At the end Zeinzemin returns to the mainland taking with him the ideals of the small communities he found on some islands, and placing the vices on other islands to be wrecked. After the shipwreck of these islands all the vices will perish for ever.

Good copy from the library of Carl Junker.- (Bindings sl. rubbed).
A. Maffey, L'Utopia della Ragione, nr 7; Negley, Utopian Literature, 810; Hartig & Soboul, p. 54; Trousson, pp. 145-150; Versins, Encyclopédie de l'Utopie et de la Science fiction, pp. 602-603; Higgs 665; INED 3319; Delumean, Une hist. du paradis, vol. 2: Mille ans de bonheur (1995), p. 303; not in Kress; not in Goldsmiths; not in Einaudi.
  • Number: 1060448
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum

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