IMPORTANT 1922 STANDARD EDITION OF MELVILLE’S WORKS, INCLUDING THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF BILLY BUDD
MELVILLE, Herman. The Works of Herman Melville. London: Constable, 1922-24. Sixteen volumes. Octavo, publisher's blue cloth gilt, top edges gilt, uncut and mostly unopened. $12,000.
Extremely important limited Standard edition of the works of Herman Melville, number 549 of 750 sets, featuring the first publication of his Billy Budd and the first book publication of many other works.
When Melville died in 1891, his obituary in the New York Times noted somewhat ironically that "he has died an absolutely forgotten man… In its kind this speedy oblivion by which a once famous man so long survived his fame is almost unique, and it is not easily explicable." Perhaps almost as unique, if more explicable, was the resurgence of his reputation in the early 20th century. The publication of this Standard Edition of Melville's work was a key component of that resurgence, and featured the important first publication of the novella Billy Budd, which had been discovered in Melville's papers in 1919 by his biographer Raymond Weaver; it was quickly hailed as a masterpiece by figures such as D.H. Lawrence.
In addition to the first publication in any form of Billy Budd, Volume XIII contains the first book publications of numerous works, including "The Cinciinnati," "Daniel Orme," "Jack Gentian," "The Two Temples" and "Under the Rose." Volume XVI contains the first publication in any form of the "Author's Note," "Miscellaneous Poems" and "At the Hostelry." BAL 1360, 13682 (Billy Budd), 13683 (Poems).
Interiors fine, cloth with a bit of wear and two spots of paint to a few spine heads, mild toning to some spines. An exceptionally important edition.