"WE ARE SPELL-BOUND, WE CANNOT CHOOSE BUT READ": RARE FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF WUTHERING HEIGHTS, PUBLISHED ONLY FIVE MONTHS AFTER THE VIRTUALLY UNOBTAINABLE LONDON FIRST EDITION, IN UNRESTORED ORIGINAL CLOTH-GILT
BRONTE, Emily. Wuthering Heights. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1848. 12mo (5 by 7-1/2 inches), original publisher's brown blind- and gilt-stamped cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $15,000.
Extraordinarily important first American edition (published less than five months after the virtually unobtainable London first edition) of Emily Brontë's passionate masterpiece, scarce in the original cloth.
"Like Poems, Wuthering Heights was presented to an uncomprehending public without preface, introduction or explanation and it was left to Charlotte, ever her sister's apologist, to insist that it was simply a tale of 'the wild moors of the north of England… There was a constant litany of complaint about the brutality and violence of some of the scenes [particularly involving Heathcliffe] and about the use of expletives, which, contrary to custom, Emily had written out in full rather than indicated by a dash… An American reviewer wrote in the Literary World: 'Fascinated by strange magic… we are made subject to the immense power of the book. We are spell-bound, we cannot choose but read" (Barker, 502, 539-40). G.W. Peck wrote of it that "if the rank of a work of fiction is to depend solely on its naked imaginative power, then this is one of the greatest novels in the language." One year after the book's publication, Emily Bronte was dead of consumption. "Wuthering Heights stands alone as a monument of intensity owing nothing to tradition, nothing to the achievement of earlier writers. It was a thing apart, passionate, unforgettable, haunting in its grimness… Bronte has a sure and certain place for all time" (Britannica). The first London edition, published December 4, 1847, is today virtually unobtainable: it has appeared on the market only nine times since 2006, realizing prices of as much as $326,000. This edition was published April 21, 1848, simultaneously as two parts in wrappers and as a single, clothbound volume. Smith, 74-75. Pencil gift inscription dated 1877.
Light foxing and a few stains to interior, slight soiling, mild sunning, and some faint waterspotting to original cloth, light wear to extremities mainly affecting spine ends. A very good copy of a rare work.