Rare Geology Book: Maillet, Benoit de; Telliamed or Discourses Between an Indian Philosopher & a French Missionary..1750

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Maillet, Benoit de; Telliamed or Discourses Between an Indian Philosopher & a French Missionary on the Diminution of the Sea, the Formation of the Earth, the Origin of Men and Animals, and other Curious Subjects relating to Natural History & Philosophy. 1st English ed., London, Jacob Loyseau, 1750. Octavo, pp. lii, 284.

The work is complete and in a 20th century calf with raised bands and gilt titles. The binding is tight and pristine. Owner’s book plate on paste down, early penned signature on title page, light title page soiling, text is very clean. In very good condition.


Benoit of Maillet (1656-1738) was a philosopher and French Consul in Egypt. His treatise “Tallimed” is on the origin of the Earth and life. The work made Benoit a precursor of Lamarck, and Darwin, it anticipated a number of geological and biological theories, and was also highly praised by Voltaire, Buffon and Cuvier. The strange title of the treatise is the anagram of the author's name.  Publication was delayed until ten years after the death of de Maillet because his ideas were considered by theologians as disturbing and dangerous. He proposed that the earth had evolved over billions of years and that continents had expanded as the seas diminished. He suggested that all life forms evolved by changing and adapting to new environments. Malliet denied that God was an omniscient overseer, states that the earth is more than two billion years in age, and believed in the possibility that life in the sea could be transformed into life on the land. He further concludes that such transformations happened not only in the distant past but is continuing to the present time. Offered is the first English translation from the first French edition of 1748.