Leiden: Jean Maire, 1649.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #003454
4to (204 x 156 mm). , 336,  pp., including final blank leaf, title printed in red and black, woodcut text diagrams, woodcut initials and tailpieces. Signatures: *4 **2 A-2T4 2V2. Bound in contemporary vellum with yapp edges, ink lettering on spine, blue sprinkled edges, original endpapers (vellum cleaned except for hand-lettered spine area, slight bending of lower board). Text with light even browning, occasional pale waterstaining to outer margins. Provenance: Ex Bibliotheca Viennensi (stamp and old ink monogram to title). ----
RARE FIRST LATIN EDITION. Although the original French version was published some years earlier, it was this Latin translation by Frans van Schooten which disseminated Descartes' treatise to the scientific community in Europe. Descartes originally published La Géométrie as an appendix to his Discourse on Method (1637) which he had entrusted to the same printer, Jean Maire. The Latin version and the commentaries of Frans van Schooten, his fervent disciple, received the approval of the master, hardly accommodating to those who considered the treatise rather obscure ("Et pour ceux qui se mêlent de médire de ma Géométrie sans l'entendre, je les méprise" (And for those who meddle in slandering my Geometry without hearing it, I despise them).
The influence of the translation commented on by Schooten and Florimond de Beaune was immense: It became the fundamental work in which all of Europe was educated (ref. René Poirier). Descartes professes that algebraic problems can be represented by geometry. He explains how to solve quadratic equations with the ruler and the compass; those of a higher degree involving the intersection of geometric curves. He also introduced modern algebraic notation: x, y, z, for unknowns, as well as exponential notation for any exponent (a2, a3, ...). Thus, Cartesian geometry, independently of Fermat, contributed to create by a decisive impetus what we will call, around 1800, "analytical geometry."
References: Chemerzine II, p. 796; Samueli & Boudenot, Trente livres de mathématiques qui ont changé le monde, 2006, pp. 65-69; Guibert, Descartes. Bibliographie des ouvres publiées au XVIIe siècle, 1976, pp. 27-29. René Poirier, L'ouvrage fondamental où toute l'Europe s'est instruite. - Visit our website to see more images!
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