"Call me Ishmael."Herman Melville. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 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, blanks] pages.
BAL first binding of publisher's drab blue or green "A" cloth, rebacked. Covers stamped in blind with a heavy rule frame and publisher's circular device at center, spine decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt. Original white endpapers. Single flyleaves at front and back. Cloth noticeably soiled and worn, with the spine gilt somewhat pale. Two dampstains to top edge of text, one starting at the front endpapers and running through p. 47; the other starting at p. 472, increasingly pronounced through the end of the text. Significant foxing and spotting throughout the text. Front hinge very tender. Rear hinge detached before the rear endpaper. Five-line contemporary ownership inscription on the front free endpaper. Chemised in a quarter green morocco over cloth slipcase. A nice copy of Melville's greatest achievement, arguably the greatest novel in American literature, in good condition.
"[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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