Cambridge: At the University Press, 1970. First edition. Octavo, original pale gray cloth, top edge green, original dust jacket. Early owner signature, very slight toning to spine and edges of clipped dust jacket. A near-fine copy. Item #911
"ALL THINGS OF THIS WORLD ARE IN THEMSELVES OF NO WORTH, SO NEITHER IS OUR RIGHT VNTO THEM BUT IMAGINARIE" First edition of this portrait of the Ferrar family's "Little Academy" and the ascetic dialogues nurtured by the community at Little Gidding. Nicholas Ferrar spent five formative years (1613-1618) traveling throughout continental Europe. Inspired by "first-hand experience" of the spirituality of the Catholic Reformation espoused by figures like Francis de Sales, Ferrar returned to England and resolved to remove himself (to "retire") from the world. Ferrar's "final renunciation of all worldly concerns was consummated on Trinity Sunday 1626 when he was ordained deacon at West Abbey by Bishop Laud." The Ferrar family retreated to the small village of Little Gidding where the "Little Academy came into being on the Feast of the Purification, 2 February 1630/1" with a focus on "storying," a series of elaborate conversations meant to entertain and instruct the participants. "That the Ferrars in their isolation and retirement chose to tell themselves stories and to form out of their family members an organized 'Little Academy' can surprise no one familiar with the classical, medieval, and Renaissance prototypes with which the Little Gidding community was familiar." This volume presents two dialogues from the original manuscripts: I. 'Dialogue on the Retirement of Charles V' and II. 'On the Austere Life.' These dialogues were selected from the Story books: four manuscript volumes, compiled by Nicholas, recording the conversations of the Little Academy. Edited by A.M. Williams, with his brief Preface ("St. Mark's School / Southborough, Massachusetts") and an important Introduction describing the members of the community, their goals and influences. Williams's dedication describes his "long preoccupation" with the "Little Academy" and an ongoing "fascination" with the Ferrar family—inspired by Eliot's Four Quartets and fed by Alan Maycock's biography of Nicholas Ferrar. Illustrated with a frontispiece (captioned, "The Janssen portrait of Nicholas Ferrar"), a chart of the "Members of Little Gidding Community," three manuscript facsimiles, and two photographs of the Chapel at Little Gidding. The text is supplemented with a Bibliography (which includes manuscripts of the two dialogues) and an Index.