Pleasure and Pain in the Practice of Smoking

  • I have been a pack-a-day smoker for several years now. For nearly as long as I have been addicted to cigarettes, I have also had the kind of niggling fear that makes me anxious to quit. A few times I've tried; but after a few days without a smoke, those nebulous ideas like "long-term health" or "savings of future earnings" start to lose their power to persuade.

    Cigarettes–at least for this addict–will win that argument every time. What I needed was something real to lose; something coveted, and physical, and deeply inspiring. Something that belongs to the life of the man I want to be, instead of to the man I am. Were I stronger, the memory of Epicurus' school and its teachings would be enough.

    But I've tried, and I simply didn't have it in me to quit smoking.

    I've now done something supremely ridiculous; I spent the next three months of my cigarette money (~$650) on something I'd rather have instead–I ordered another copy of Lucretius.

    I won't receive the book until the end of this week, but, in eager anticipation, I present it now!

    I have bought a copy of the 1675 Latin Edition of De Rerum Natura, published—for the very first time in England—by John Hayes, printer to the University of Cambridge; itself a reprint of a French Edition (of the Latin Text), that published by Tanneguy Le Fèvre in 1662(?). Both versions based on Denis Lambin's influential 16th century scholarship and emmendations.

    Published in 1675, this book is ~112 years older than the United States Constitution. Its printing was closer in time to Poggio Bracciolini and his rediscovery of the manuscript in 1417, than it is to me. It was set to paper in the same century in which Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in the Campo de Fiori in Rome. I'm so terribly excited I can hardly stand it!

    There's one rule and it's very simple. If I want to pick up smoking again, I have to sell this book first. I threw away the last two cigarettes I had yesterday.

    So there it is—my small, personal bribe; my little corruption, mingling the fates of a few leaves of tobacco and of antique paper, with a not-quite-insignificant sum of money.



    Condition of the book as described by the seller;



    Gordon 107. The Cambridge edition published by John Hayes. Contemporary Cambridge paneled calf. Title page in red and black, ruled in red ink; old owner's name to flyleaf. Inner hinges professionally repaired; endpapers stained. Mild even toning to text. A very sound and handsome copy.

  • Quote

    Wow that is beautiful! Now, even though, "death is nothing to us," you've got to be careful not only to take good care of it but to provide for its continued safety when, many years from now, you have to pass it down to new generations!

    I've been doing a bit of research on that point, Cassius! I hope that Florida's humidity isn't a problem indoors. I may need to meet some special storage requirements apart from just dark, temperate, and stable.