"IT WILL LIVE AS LONG AS AESOP'S FABLES": FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE, OF JOEL CHANDLER'S HARRIS' FIRST UNCLE REMUS BOOK, IN ORIGINAL GILT-STAMPED CLOTH
HARRIS, Joel Chandler. Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings. The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation. New York: D. Appleton, 1881. Octavo, original gilt- and black-stamped pictorial green cloth, butterfly-patterned endpapers. $8500.
First edition, first state, of the first and most beloved Uncle Remus book by Harris, the one American writer of the Reconstruction who "has made the most permanent contribution," with eight plates and numerous text illustrations by Church and Moser, in original cloth-gilt.
"Harris' main concern in setting [the stories] down was to preserve the remnants of a folklore which he was sufficiently farseeing to know would one day perish from the earth unless someone who understood the racial psychology and social philosophy behind it acted as amanuensis to its surviving narrators" (Twenty-three Books, Winterich, 102). "Of all the American writers of [the Reconstruction] period, Joel Chandler Harris has made the most permanent contribution" (Braithwaite, in The New Negro, 32). "It will live as long as Aesop's fables" (John Bigelow). First state, with "presumptive" in the last line of page 9 and no mention of Uncle Remus in the publisher's advertisements. BAL notes four cloth variants and three endpaper variants, no priority. BAL 7100. Booklabel. Owner signature.
A few finger smudges to interior, only light rubbing to extremities, gilt bright. A near-fine copy.