“TORTURE IN LOVE, AND DESPAIR, AND MADNESS”: OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL PARTS
DICKENS, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. London: Chapman and Hall, 1864-65. Twenty parts in nineteen. Octavo, original green printed paper wrappers. Housed in custom morocco clamshell box. $2500.
First edition in original parts of this Dickens favorite, with a substantial complement of the advertisements issued with the original parts. A very nice copy in largely unrestored original wrappers.
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… it is possible to trace the strange curve of Dickens' temperament exploring extremity in art if not necessarily life" (Ackroyd, 955). In the illustrations to Our Mutual Friend, "for the first time, a departure is made from etchings on steel. The designs of Marcus Stone are engraved on wood by Dalziel (21) and W. T. Green (19), to the usual number of 40 subjects" (Haddon and Cleaver, 347).
In Our Mutual Friend, "the official advertising sheet has a greater volume of material than any other of the works in original parts—a total number of 320 pages occupying the front position within the covers… No less than 89 individual insets and slips are placed within the back wrappers, each monthly part containing a proportion" (Hatton & Cleaver, 345). In this set, the text and plates are complete, and the advertisements are substantially present, with the following exceptions: Part 2 without a 4-page insert at rear; Part 3 with the corner of pages 13-14 of the Advertiser torn away, and without the 5 rear ads (stubs present); Part 4 without two single-leaf ads at rear; Part 6 without one 2-page ad at rear; Part 7 without any ads (the 16-page Advertiser at front and six ads at rear); Part 13 without any ads (the 16-page Advertiser at front and one one-leaf ad at rear); Part 14 without "particularly scarce" 4-page insert to follow the plates; Part 15 without the original wrappers and without any ads (the 16-page Advertiser at front and six ads at rear); Part 16 without one one-leaf ad at rear; Part 17 without one one-leaf ad at rear; Part 18 with pages 5-6 of the 16-page Advertiser at front torn away; i.e., 271 of the 320 total pages of the Advertiser at the front of each part are present, and 65 of the 89 total inserts found at the rear of each part are present. Part 15 is without the original wrappers; later plain blue paper wrappers have been substituted. The printer's imprint does not appear on the front wrapper of the first part, as issued. Hatton & Cleaver, 345-70. Eckel, 94-95. Smith I, 15. A few parts with early owner signatures on front wrappers. Bookplates to clamshell box interior.
A few wrappers lightly soiled, minor wear to a very few edges, four parts with minor repairs on versos of front wrappers, shallow wear to unrestored spine ends. Text and plates clean. A very good set, scarce in the original wrappers.