“NO EQUAL IN AMERICAN LITERATURE”: FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF MOBY-DICK IN ORIGINAL CLOTH
MELVILLE, Herman. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, 1851. Octavo, original stamped green cloth, orange-brown endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First American edition, in original cloth, of Melville’s rare classic. A lovely copy in exceptional original cloth with only slight reinforcement to spine extremities.
Arguably the greatest single work in American literature, Moby-Dick was initially “a complete practical failure, misunderstood by the critics and ignored by the public; and in 1853 the Harper’s fire destroyed the plates of all his books and most of the copies remaining in stock (only about 60 copies of Moby-Dick survived the fire)… [Nevertheless,] Melville’s permanent fame must always rest on the great prose epic of Moby-Dick, a book that has no equal in American literature for variety and splendor of style and for depth of feeling” (DAB). This American edition contains 35 passages and the Epilogue omitted from the English edition (The Whale, published in October of the same year; the first American edition appeared in December). Complete with six pages of advertisements at the end, covers blind-stamped with heavy rule frame and publisher’s circular device at center, and orange-brown endpapers; this title was issued in a variety of cloth colors and endpapers, no priority given. This copy with double flyleaves at front and triple flyleaves at rear. BAL 13664. Bookseller ticket.
Scattered light foxing to interior, as often, primarily to first and last leaves, cloth exceptionally fresh with only minor reinforcement to spine extremities, inner paper hinge partially split, spine gilt bright. A near-fine copy, scarce in such excellent condition.