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The artist of the Leviathan title-page

Keith Brown

Abstract

FEW title-page designs, if any, can rival the success of that bluntly eloquent engraving which prefaces the first edition (1651) of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan. Though it was re-used for two further editions in the author's own lifetime, successive reproductions have given it far wider currency since its reappearance in the great Molesworth edition of Hobbes's collected works of 1839-45. Today it is still quite commonly invoked in expositions of Hobbes's thought: even if there have also been murmurs that it must take part of the blame at least, for certain persistent misunderstandings or oversimplifications of key elements in his theory. It is a remarkable record, and the plate has attracted scholarly attention and a certain amount of debate, not just as a trailer to Leviathan but also in its own right.

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