"HUMAN LIFE TOUCHED BY MAJESTY AND PURPOSE": FIRST EDITION DOMBEY AND SON—IN ORIGINAL PARTS
DICKENS, Charles. Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son, Wholesale, Retail, and for Exportation. With Illustrations by H.K. Browne. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1846-48. Twenty parts in nineteen. Octavo, original green printed paper wrappers. Housed in custom cloth chemise and half morocco pull-off case. $4500.
First edition in scarce original parts of Dickens' novel of "Pride," with 40 etchings by Hablôt Knight Browne ("Phiz"), including the famous first "dark plate." An excellent, unrestored copy, with almost all of the ads called for.
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," in part 18), created by the engraver's lining machine and roulettes that tint the etched plate so as to heighten the contrast between black and white (Johannsen, Phiz, 309). Mixed first and later issue text, with the following first issue points: page 284 with "Toot's Delight" mentioned twice instead of "Toot's Joy"; page 324 with "Capatin" on the last line; page 426 with blank space at the beginning of line 9; and the following later issue points: page 431 with page number present, and with the eight-line errata slip in the preliminary pages at the rear of Part 19/20, rather than the two-line errata. Text, preliminaries, and illustrations are all present, as are all wrappers. Most advertisements called for are present with the following exceptions: Part 9 without one slip at rear; Part 10 without slip and 8-page insert at rear; Part 11 without one slip at rear; Part 15 without one slip at the rear. In Part 13 the four-page insert is stitched in at the rear rather than the front. Parts 7 and 12 each contain an additional tipped-in slip at the rear; Part 12 contains an additional copy of the 8-page Advertiser also found in the front. In Part 13 the date "October" on the first page of the Advertiser is unbroken, indicating the earliest state of the advertising booklet. Hatton and Cleaver, 227-250. A few parts with contemporary owner signatures.
A few plates with marginal foxing. Front wrappers of first two parts only splitting along front joint, still sound; a few wrappers with light edge-wear to, shallow wear to spine ends. An excellent and desirable unrestored copy in the scarce original parts.