First American Edition of Les MiserablesVictor Hugo. Les Misérables.... Translated from the Original French by Chas. E Wilbour. New York: Carleton, Publisher, 1862. First American edition and first edition in English. Complete in five octavo volumes: Fantine (171 pages plus four-page publisher's advertisement), Cosette (164 pages plus four-page publisher's advertisement), Marius (150 pages plus two-page publisher's advertisement), Saint Denis (184 pages), and Jean Valjean (165 pages plus two-page publisher's advertisement). Publisher's matching brown embossed cloth with gilt spine titles. Illustrated bookplate of John W. McConnell by Lavare tipped in on each front free endpaper. Housed in a custom cloth book box with gilt lettered title label on spine.
Fantine spine with chips and minor loss at head and foot; partially erased bookseller's pencil marks and annotations on front endpapers and bookplate. Cosette with erase marks or abrasions on title page; small tear and minor paper loss in lower right corner of title page, rear hinge cracked. Marius with a clean vertical and horizontal tear repaired in spine near the head across the upper title, small hole in front joint. Jean Valjean front hinge broken and pages over-opened between 96 and 97. Each volume with moderate wear to the spine ends and edges, corners bumped. Boards lightly rubbed, more so at extremities. Pages with light edge wear, scattered foxing, occasional soiling, and few stains. Overall in very good condition.
Charles E. Wilbour was hired by the Carleton Publishing Company to translate Hugo's grand masterpiece, and he did so very quickly, allowing the first American edition to be published within months of its French release. The intense advertising campaign waged by Carleton resulted in massive sales for Les Misérables, solidifying Hugo's epic in second place (behind only Uncle Tom's Cabin) in pre-Civil War American book sales.
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