“TORTURE IN LOVE, AND DESPAIR, AND MADNESS”: FIRST EDITION, BOUND FROM PARTS, OF OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, WITH LOVELY FORE-EDGE PORTRAIT OF CHARLES DICKENS
DICKENS, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. London: Chapman & Hall, 1865. Two volumes. Octavo, 20th-century three-quarter red morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, fore-edge painting of Dickens. Housed in a custom cloth slipcase. $2800.
First edition, bound from parts, of this classic Dickens novel about liars, deceivers, and pretenders, with 40 illustrations by Marcus Stone, handsomely bound and with an elaborate bi-directional fore-edge painting of Charles Dickens.
With Our Mutual Friend, "Dickens has for the first time given serious consideration to the theme of unrequited love. In earlier books it may have been secret or ill-timed, but there was always an equilibrium in which both parties seem to accept that they loved or can be loved; and that, when eventually they declare their love, it is not rejected." But in Our Mutual Friend "there is torture in love, and despair, and madness. There is some necessary connection between courtship and death… so that it is possible to trace the strange curve of Dickens' temperament exploring extremity in art if not necessarily his life" (Ackroyd, 955). The illustrations to this volume are particularly notable as these are the first Dickens illustrations that are wood engravings; all previous illustrations were on steel. Originally issued in parts from May 1864 to November 1865. With title pages for Volume I and II, but with stab holes from original parts visible. Bound without half titles, publisher's advertisements and slip explaining title (as often). This copy bears a bi-directional fore-edge painting, with both directions of fanning revealing Charles Dickens. Fore-edge painting reached its height in the late 18th century and 19th century in Britain. Bi-directional paintings as here were more common during the 20th century. Due to the dimensions of the fore-edge, the majority of paintings use subjects such as landscapes, maritime scenes, and foreign views; portraits such as this one are somewhat uncommon. Gimbel A149. Eckel, 94. Hatton & Cleaver, 345.
Light foxing to interior, minor rubbing and soiling to binding. An extremely good copy.