“PIRATE PRINCE OF PUBLISHERS”: MOSHER’S EDITION OF MEREDITH’S MODERN LOVE
(MOSHER, Thomas Bird) MEREDITH, George. Modern Love and Other Poems. Portland, Maine: Thomas B. Mosher (Smith & Sale), 1904. Small, narrow octavo, original full yapp-edged parchment, uncut, original glassine. $150.
Second Mosher edition, one of only 925 copies, of Meredith’s innovative sonnet cycle, chronicling a failed marriage and its psychological effects.
Contemporary critics considered Meredith a brilliant innovator. Modern Love, first published in 1862, is acknowledged as his major achievement. It documents in great detail the failure of a marriage and the psychological disintegration of the individuals involved. “Modern Love is not only a psychological drama of individuals, but also an exploration of the nature of self and, in turn, a study of the position of the narrator in the evolution of Victorian fiction” (Dorothy Mermin). His psychological realism has obtained for Meredith a place among the major Victorian poets. Literary publisher Thomas Bird Mosher has been praised as an American Aldus whose finely-printed and modestly priced editions “introduced Americans to ‘the literature of rapture” (William Fredeman). Alternatively, Mosher has been reviled as a literary pirate who exploited loop-holes in the prevailing copyright laws, in order to avoid paying royalties to the authors he published. Business ethics aside, books produced by Mosher are “elegant edifices, appropriate to the authors who inhabit them… He extended the idea of the total book to include its contents as well as the externals of paper, type, and binding, thereby achieving an organic unity” (Fredeman). Without scarce original slipcase. Bishop 245.1. Hatch 302.
A fine copy.