First American EditionHerman Melville. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851.
First American edition (first published in three volumes in London as The Whale). Twelvemo. xxiii, [1, blank], 634, [1, "Epilogue"], [1, blank], [6, ads], [2, blank] pages.
BAL first binding of publisher's drab purple-brown "A" cloth. Covers stamped in blind with a heavy rule frame and publisher's circular device at center, spine decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt, original orange coated endpapers. Double flyleaves at front and back. Some light scattered foxing or browning, as is usual. A few light moisture stains to lower outer corner. Semi-circular cockling to the middle outer margin of most leaves. Some small ink stains to lower edge of textblock, foot of spine, and lower outer edge of final five leaves. Hinges with minor expert restoration. Spine sunned, and moisture lightening along outer edge of front board. Light shelf wear to board extremities, corners very slightly bumped, with a few bits of loss to lower outer corners of boards and another bit of loss to upper edge of front board. Cloth along front joint with minor expert repair. Engraved armorial bookplate of James M. Strachan affixed to front pastedown; engraved pictorial bookplate of renowned book collector Charles C. Auchincloss affixed to front free endpaper. Overall, a very good copy. Chemised in a quarter brown morocco over lavender cloth case.
A lovely copy, with a distinguished provenance, of Melville's greatest achievement, and arguably the greatest novel in American literature.
"[Melville's] great book, Moby Dick, was a complete practical failure, misunderstood by the critics and ignored by the public; and in 1853 the Harpers' fire destroyed the plates of all of his books and most of the copies remaining in stock [only about sixty copies survived the fire]... Melville's permanent fame must always rest on the great prose epic of Moby Dick, a book that has no equal in American literature for variety and splendor of style and for depth of feeling" (Dictionary of American Biography XII, pp. 522-526).
"Moby Dick is the great conundrum-book. Is it a profound allegory with the white whale the embodiment of moral evil, or merely the finest story of the sea ever written?" (Grolier, 100 American).
BAL 13664. Grolier, 100 American, 60.
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