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    Albert Pike. Prose Sketches and Poems, Written in the Western Country. Boston: Light & Horton, 1834. First edition. 12mo. 200 pp. Bound in original dark green moiré cloth with gilt lettering at spine. Signature of former owner on leaf preceding title page. Moderate wear to board corners and along spine; occasional soiling. End papers are moderately age toned; textblock shows intermittent faint foxing. Generally fine.

    First edition of the author's first book, considered to be the first published account of a trip across the Texas Panhandle. Pike was a remarkable figure in American history: his self-taught knowledge of the classics was prodigious, and he had a working knowledge of Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French. In addition to a strong literary bent, he possessed seemingly unlimited physical energy and impressive determination. A physically imposing figure, Pike stood over six feet tall, with shoulder-length hair and a waist-length beard. In 1833, while acting as associate editor for the Little Rock Advocate, Pike joined his friend Aaron B. Lewis on an expedition between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and wrote vivid memoirs and poems about the adventure. Initially published in serial form in the Advocate, and while his overland journey has always been the chief interest of this book, it bears significant literary merit as well. The Dictionary of American Biography states that Pike "had imagination and skill in versification. Some of his poems have a lusty vigor, and of the different versions of Dixie, his is perhaps the best."

    Streeter 1150: "... an unusual book by an unusual man, who besides hunting for furs on the Plains, wrote poetry and was later a leading lawyer of the Southwest." Cited by Streeter in the introduction to his Texas bibliography as "especially desirable for a Texas collection" (p. 328). Wagner-Camp 50. Clark 111:88. Wright 1:2045. BAL 16031. Howes P-365. Rittenhouse 466. Graff 3285. Field 1219. Rader 2670. Plains & Rockies IV:50: "Pike was one of the first Anglo-American authors to use the Southwest as a setting for his writings."

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    June, 2008
    14th Saturday
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