“HIS SINGLE MOST FEROCIOUS ONSLAUGHT AGAINST ENGLAND”: FIRST EDITION OF DICKENS’ LITTLE DORRIT
DICKENS, Charles. Little Dorrit. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1857. Thick octavo, 20th-century three-quarter green morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. $2000.
First edition, first issue, bound from parts, of one of Dickens’ most outspoken and outstanding novels, with 40 illustrations by Hablôt Knight Brown (“Phiz”), including frontispiece and vignette title page.
"In Little Dorrit Dickens mounts his single most ferocious onslaught against England and English society; against its government, against its financiers, against its artists and even against its ordinary citizens who, at least in Bleeding Heart Yard, believed that 'foreigners were always immoral… that foreigners had no independent spirit" (Ackroyd, 758). Perhaps unsurprisingly, many reviewers reviled the book upon its publication. Dickens' friend Hans Christian Andersen advised the author to ignore the critics: "They are forgotten in a week, and your book stands and lives" (Ackroyd, 780). And indeed, Little Dorrit does: not only a commercial success in its day (poor press notwithstanding) but also esteemed now as a "wonderfully rich novel— rich in ideas, rich in characterization, rich in incident, and written in a richly imaginative prose… Many [modern] critics regard it as Dickens' masterpiece" (Watts, 108). First issue, still retaining signature "B2" on page 371 and "Rigaud" mistakenly substituted for "Blandois" on pages 469-74; without slip discussing the erroneous use of "Rigaud," issued with part 16. Eckel, 82-85. Smith I:12. Gimbel (Podeschi) A141. Bookplate.
Scattered foxing to plates, as often; front joint expertly repaired.