“I AM MY OWN SOUL’S EMPEROR”
MELVILLE, Herman. Mardi: and a Voyage Thither. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1849. Two volumes. Octavo, original blind-stamped green cloth gilt, yellow endpapers. Housed in handsome custom clamshell boxes. $4500.
First American edition of this allegorical romance, in original cloth.
The publication of Mardi immediately followed Melville's immensely popular novels Typee and Omoo. "Mardi was originally intended as a fictional South Seas adventure story, an idea Melville claimed was inspired by the many attacks upon the veracity of Typee and Omoo. As the story progressed, however, he began to slide increasingly into satire and metaphysical speculation… The resulting book revealed the first blossoming of the intellectual growth and spiritual searching that would shape Melville's later works" (Life and Works of Herman Melville). This most desirable first American edition was issued within weeks of the scarce London edition, which preceded it. With eight pages of advertisements at the end of Volume II. BAL 13658. Owner signature dated in the year of publication. Bookplates.
Second rear fly-leaf and rear free endpaper of Volume I excised (as often). Moderate foxing to text. Cloth exceptionally fresh and fine, gilt bright, only minor rubbing to spine heads. An unrestored copy in near-fine condition.