Edgar Allan POE   |   Gustave DORE

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(DORÉ, Gustave) POE, Edgar Allan. The Raven. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1884. Slim folio (measures 14-1/2 by 18-1/2 inches), original pictorial gray cloth gilt, all edges gilt.

Splendid first edition of Doré's final illustrated book, his only commissioned by an American publisher and illustrating an American work, with 24 full-page folio wood-engravings and two vignettes by Doré.

"One can hardly deny that Doré is not merely one of the most popular but also one of the greatest of all illustrators. Perhaps Taine summed up Doré's appeal most eloquently: 'every imagination appeared languid in comparison with his. For energy, force, superabundance, originality, sparkle, and gloomy grandeur, I know only one equal to his—that of Tintoretto'" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 327-29). Doré died at age 51 shortly after completing the illustrations for "The Raven." "Could there have been a more graphic expression of the poem's theme of death than the fact that Doré was dying inside while he was doing the illustrations? Doré would probably have been incapable of doing this work 30 years earlier, but in 1882 it was much more than Poe's story, it was Doré's story" (Malan, 141). This edition was published simultaneously in England and America in December of 1883. The British edition lists the date as 1883 on its title page and the present Harper & Brothers American edition lists 1884, but they came out at the same time and as the work was commissioned by Harper & Brothers, the American edition is preferred. The New York edition also features an elaborate cover illustration by Dora Wheeler and a title page illustration by Elihu Vedder depicting Poe and Doré, neither of which is included in the London edition. Without scarce original publisher's box. Malan, 297. Contemporary autograph gift presentation note mounted on the front free endpaper, dated December 1883, on Chicago lawyer Robert W. Smith's stationery, presenting this volume as a gift to fellow Chicago attorney Edwin Bean. Ban subsequently presented the book to someone else in 1892, with his gift inscription on the same page. Bean was the founder of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, a legal periodical still in circulation.

Interior clean and fine; rubbing to corners and spine ends, a couple minuscule stains to front cover, gilt bright. An extremely good and attractive copy.

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