"LARGER AND BRIGHTER THAN THE REALITY"
DICKENS, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter dark green morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, marbled boards, endpapers, and edges. $1900.
First edition, first issue, bound from parts, of one of Dickens' most popular novels, illustrated with 39 etchings by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz") and the steel-engraved frontispiece portrait after the painting by Daniel Maclise.
Dickens' third novel "most closely follows," of them all, "the 'life and adventures' pattern of Fielding, Smollett and other 18th-century novelists whose works he had loved from childhood… Nickleby attracted more notice than Dickens had received previously" (Schlike, 415-16). The plot, the characters, the dialogue, everything about the book "has the feel of theatre; it is as if Dickens saw human life conducted among lights of the stage, making it somehow larger and brighter than the reality" (Ackroyd, 283). This copy with second state of the engraved frontispiece portrait of Dickens (without imprint at bottom), and mixed state of plates 1-4 (the first two plates with the Chapman & Hall imprint at bottom—first state—and the second two plates without—second state). Originally issued in 20 parts from April 1838 to October 1839. Bound without half title. Eckel, 64-66. Smith I:5. Gimbel A41. Owner blindstamp.
Text generally clean, light toning to plates as often, corner dampstain to last few pages, light wear to extremities, spine toned to brown. An extremely good copy.