“ONE OF GREATEST HISTORICAL NOVELS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE”
READE, Charles. The Cloister and the Hearth. London: Trübner, 1861. Four volumes. 12mo, early-20th century full lavender morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, brown morocco spine labels, all edges gilt. $2500.
First edition. presentation copy of this sweeping story of romance and religion against the backdrop of the early Renaissance, perennially popular and often hailed as the finest historical novel in English, inscribed on a tipped-in leaf in Volume I, "H.O. Nethercote Esq. with the author's kind regards."
In crafting his phenomenally popular tale of a 15th-century cleric torn between love for the Church and love of a woman, Reade drew on "material from Erasmus, Froissart, Luther, the chronicles, the old jest-books and beggar-books and quantities of miscellaneous erudition… The resultant picture of Europe at the dawn of the Renaissance—its every level of life from palace to monastery to tavern and highroad; its every type of character from bishop and burgomaster to beggar and freebooter—is at once spacious and dignified and beautiful and wonderfully informed with life… Its interest and value have proved lasting" (Baugh et al., 1354). "It is full of learning, of pictorial truthfulness, of shrewd reflection and of happy touches" (Allibone, 1753). "It may safely be called one of the greatest historical novels in the English language—some say the greatest" (Kunitz & Haycraft, 516). Mixed issue, with periods after "Etc" on Volume I title page (later issue), and without periods after "Volumes" on Volume II title page and after "Hearth" on Volume III title page (both first issue); and with all other textual points. Parrish 206. Sadleir 1999. See Wolff IV:7.
Interiors fine, mild toning to spines, small chip to spine head of Volume II. An excellent presentation copy.