Landmark Books in All Fields
ItemID: #110150
Cost: $850.00

Nigger of the "Narcissus"

Joseph Conrad


CONRAD, Joseph. The Nigger of the "Narcissus": A Tale of the Sea. London: William Heinemann, 1898. Octavo, original gilt-stamped gray cloth. $850.

First English edition of Conrad’s first masterpiece, of which he wrote, “After writing the last words of that book… I understood that I had done with the sea, and that henceforth I had to be a writer.”

Henry James described Conrad's third novel as "the very finest and strongest picture of the sea and sea life that our language possesses" (Drabble, 700). The experience of writing of this book confirmed for Conrad his decision to leave his seafaring life behind and devote himself to writing. He wrote a preface for the novel, in which he stated, "After writing the last words of that book [Narcissus]… I understood that I had done with the sea, and that henceforth I had to be a writer. And almost without laying down the pen I wrote a preface, trying to express the spirit in which I was entering on the task of my new life." This preface—now known by the title "The Art of Fiction" and considered one of the best critical statements concerning modern fiction—was suppressed from this first book printing of Narcissus, though it appeared as an afterword to the final installment of the book's serialized run in the New Review, and was published separately in 1902. Dated 1898, the novel was actually issued December 2, 1897, in an edition of 1500 copies. First published in New York in 1897 as The Children of the Sea. Cagle binding "a" with 16 pages of advertisements and "H" on spine taller than other letters, no priority. Cagle A3c(1). Keating 10, 11. Wise, Conrad 5.

Text generally fine, inner paper hinges split, with a bit of chipping to free endpapers. Binding rubbed. A very good copy.

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