“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 three-quarter dark green calf gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers. $1400.
First edition in book form 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 states of pages 284 (with “Toot’s Delight” mentioned twice instead of “Toot’s Joy”) and 324 (with “Capatin” on the last line); second states of pages 426 (without blank space at the beginning of line 9) and 431 (with stop-press correction of pagination). With the half title present, but without the errata slip. Eckel, 74-76. Smith I:8. Gimbel (Podeschi) A103. Dealer description tipped in. Owner signature in pencil.
Marginal foxing to plates (as often), not affecting images, joints with minor expert reinforcement. An extremely good copy.