"HUMAN LIFE TOUCHED BY MAJESTY AND PURPOSE": FIRST EDITION OF DOMBEY AND SON
DICKENS, Charles. Dombey and Son. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1848. Thick octavo, contemporary full calf rebacked to style, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, burgundy morocco spine label, marbled endpapers and edges. $1400.
First edition, bound from parts, of Dickens' novel of "Pride," with 40 etchings by Hablôt Knight Browne ("Phiz"), including the famous "dark plate."
For its inclusion of fairy-tale themes and the much discussed demise of Paul Dombey, Dombey and Son "has a sense of the numinous, is more profoundly touched by the sense of last things, than any of Dickens' previous novels. It is larger in conception, so that human life is seen in terms of its beginning and its end, so that grief and forgiveness become more powerful forces within it… Dickens is aware of its status as art and provides here a simulacrum of human life touched by majesty and purpose" (Ackroyd, 526). Dombey and Son "was well received by its readers, and is considered to be the first novel that reflects Dickens's artistic maturity… Dickens told his first biographer, 'It was to do with Pride what its predecessor [Martin Chuzzlewit] has done with Selfishness" (Schlicke, 280). Dombey and Son contains the first of Browne's so-called "dark plates" ("On the dark Road," at page 547), created by the engraver's lining machine and roulettes that tint the etched plate so as to heighten the contrast between black and white, anticipating some of the techniques of white-line engraving (Johannsen, Phiz, 309). First state of pages 324 (with "Capitan" on the last line) and 426 (with blank space at the beginning of line 9); second states of pages 284 (with "Toot's Joy" mentioned twice instead of "Toot's Delight") and 431 (with stop-press correction of pagination). With half title. Without the two-line and the 12-line errata slips, as often; with the eight-line errata slip (bound before the first page of text). Eckel, 74-76. Smith I:8. Gimbel (Podeschi) A103. Charles Dickens Centenary Testimonial stamp affixed to front pastedown. Issued as a Cinderella stamp by Strand Magazine, these stamps—while not valid postage themselves—were frequently affixed decoratively alongside official postage. The intended use, as written on the original housing, was affixure in "every volume you possess of the works of Charles Dickens for the purpose of raising a fund for the benefit of his descendants, and, should the proceeds permit, of in other ways commemorating his memory." Bookplate.
Scattered soiling and mild marginal toning to interior, only light wear to original boards. An extremely good copy.