"BETTER TO REIGN IN HELL THAN SERVE IN HEAVEN": SPLENDID LARGE FOLIO EDITION OF DORÉ'S PARADISE LOST
(DORÉ, Gustave) MILTON, John. Milton's Paradise Lost. Illustrated By Gustave Doré. Edited, With Notes and a Life of Milton, by Robert Vaughan, D.D. London, Paris, and New York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, [1871-72]. Large folio (12 by 15-1/2 inches), contemporary full red morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated covers and spine, with black morocco onlays, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $6500.
Early edition of Doré's interpretation of Paradise Lost, with 50 stunning full-page folio engravings, "matched only by his illustrations for Dante’s Inferno," very handsomely bound in full morocco gilt by A.W. Bain.
"When Cassell saw the Doré Bible illustrations in the fall of 1865, they were so impressed they not only made arrangements with the French Catholic publisher Mame for Cassell to be the English publisher, but they personally approached Doré to do Milton" (Malan, 79). Only Doré's illustrations for Dante's Inferno match his work on Paradise Lost in epic scope and acute lyric sensitivity. In his designs for this volume, we see full-blown the Romantic reading of Milton—as a celebrator of radical genius—that drew the poets of the Romantic movement to Milton, and a half-century of book illustrators to Doré. In Doré's depiction of the hellish steeps, of the armies of the night and their beaten but triumphant and queerly illuminated leader, and of the ineluctably lovely Adam and Eve, it is hard to discover, among the ingenious but fallen, a face or form not worthy of intense admiration. "None can dispute the fact that here, as in all other works he has attempted to interpret, Doré stands as a giant among his contemporaries and predecessors" (New York Times). First published in a slightly larger format in 1866, Doré's version is the first to contain Milton's Life by editor Robert Vaughan, a historian and doctor of divinity who "valued nonconformity as a bulwark of evangelical religion, and did real service to his denomination by extending its literary culture" (DNB). Malan, 287. Large morocco-gilt presentation bookplate.
Text and plates fresh with only light scattered foxing. An about-fine copy in beautiful morocco-gilt.