“HIS SINGLE MOST FEROCIOUS ONSLAUGHT AGAINST ENGLAND”: FIRST EDITION OF DICKENS’ LITTLE DORRIT
DICKENS, Charles. Little Dorrit. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1857. Thick octavo, contemporary three-quarter vellum, red morocco spine label, marbled boards and edges. $1750.
First edition in book form, first issue, 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. Eckel, 82-85. Smith I:12. Gimbel (Podeschi) A141. Armorial bookplate of Sir John Whittaker Ellis, onetime Lord Mayor of London and Member of Parliament. Dealer description tipped in.
Plates generally darkened at edges (as often). An extremely good copy.