“IT WAS A PLEASURE TO BURN”: BRADBURY'S FAHRENHEIT 451, SIGNED LIMITED FIRST EDITION BOUND IN ASBESTOS
BRADBURY, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine, (1953). Octavo, original white asbestos cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
Signed limited first edition, extra-numbered 204 of 200 copies bound in fragile asbestos cloth. One of the most sought-after modern works and most rare in this edition. With three illustrations by Joe Mugnaini.
Fahrenheit 451 remains Bradbury's most acclaimed work, with more than four million copies in print. "Frightening in its implications… Mr. Bradbury's account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating" (New York Times). "What is distinctive about Fahrenheit 451 as a work of literature is not what Bradbury says but how he says it… Bradbury's evocative, lyrical style charges [the book] with a sense of mystery and connotative depth that go beyond the normal boundaries of dystopian fiction… It is the only major symbolic dystopia of our time" (Donald Watt). Includes the short stories "The Playground" and "And the Rock Cried Out."
The first edition was issued in four different bindings (a paperback binding preceded the three hardcover bindings, among which no priority has been determined); this is the rarest binding, and one of the most desirable of all classic science fiction editions
(Currey, 44). Issued without dust jacket. Although the limitation of copies of the volume is listed as 200, in a letter
on the author's personal stationery, dated March 16, 1974, Bradbury wrote to collector Robert Yaspan about another extra-numbered copy: "It may well be that there were a few extra copies of the Asbestos Edition made. I took the front pages along on the boat to France that autumn, to sign on the way. I seem to recall (and it was more than 20 years ago!) that I signed at least 210 or 215 separate pages… so those might have gone into 10 or 15 copies over and beyond those indicated on the asbestos frontispiece!"
New York Public Library, Books of the Century,
162. Anatomy of Wonder
II-153. Bookplate; contemporary inkstamp to front free endpaper.
Interior fine. Some toning to binding, less than usually found in the asbestos-bound copies; lower front joint tender but sound. An about fine copy of this fragile book, far better than usually seen.