Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy

Laurence STERNE

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STERNE, Laurence. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. London: for R. and J. Dodsley, for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, 1760-67. Nine volumes. Small octavo, 19th-century full polished calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, red and green morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in two matching half red morocco, velvet lined clamshell boxes.

First editions of all nine volumes of Tristram Shandy, signed by Laurence Sterne in three volumes, handsomely bound in polished calf-gilt by Bedford. From the esteemed Huth collection, with its morocco-gilt bookplate, begun by Henry Huth in the 19th century and continued by his son Alfred H. Huth.

Tristram Shandy's huge popular success made Sterne, a Yorkshire parson, the toast of the London literary world. When some volumes were pirated, Sterne began signing some genuine editions of his work. This set is signed by Sterne on the first page of Volumes V, VII and IX (as often). "Sterne is generally acknowledged as an innovator of the highest originality, and has been seen as the chief begetter of a long line of writers interested in the 'stream-of-consciousness' (Drabble, 937). Among these must be numbered Joyce, who wrote regarding Finnegans Wake, "I, after all, am trying to tell the story of this Chapelizod family in a new way… Only I am trying to build many planes of narrative with a single esthetic purpose. Did you ever read Laurence Sterne?" (Ellman, 554). "[Sterne] remains, as the author of Tristram Shandy, a delineator of the comedy of human life before whom only three or four humorous writers, in any tongue or of any age, can justly claim precedence… he deserves many of the honors that have been paid to Pope and Swift" (DNB). Full first edition set ("though it has been stated that the first two volumes appeared in York in 1759, no volumes with that date have been discovered") [Grolier 52]. Bound without half titles. Volume IV with engraved plate by William Hogarth correctly inserted opposite page 112; Volume III with marbled leaf inserted at pp. 169-70. Rothschild 1970. Powys, One Hundred Best Books 53. Lowndes, 2510. Allibone, 2242. Huth Library, IV, 1399. Morocco-gilt bookplate of the Huth Library, "Ex Musaeo Huthii," begun by renowned bibliophile Henry Huth (1815-78) and continued by his son Alfred H. Huth. The large Huth collection was dispersed at auction in a number of sales between 1911 and 1920.

Text clean; mild rubbing to a few joints, bindings sound and quite handsome. An excellent, beautiful copy of this landmark 18th-century English novel, with distinguished provenance.

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