"AN INNOVATOR OF THE HIGHEST ORIGINALITY": STERNE'S WORKS, ONE OF ONLY 500 ILLUSTRATED SETS
STERNE, Laurence. The Works of Laurence Sterne. Stratford-upon-Avon; Boston and New York: Shakespeare Head Press; Houghton Mifflin Co., 1926-27. Seven volumes. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter dark blue morocco gilt, raised bands, top edges gilt, uncut and largely unopened. $2200.
Shakespeare Head Press large-paper illustrated edition of Sterne's works, number 32 of only 500 copies, with frontispieces and a number of plates by George Cruikshank, handsomely bound in morocco-gilt at the Riverside Press.
Tristram Shandy's huge popular success made Sterne, a Yorkshire parson, the toast of the London literary world. "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 Finnegan's 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 "revolutionized the novel. He was the first to change it from a mere mirror of life to a subjective romance. He stems from Cervantes… Rasselas and Candide are both among the relatives of Tristram Shandy; but Sterne alone took the final step… He made the novel personal, subtle, free" (Kunitz & Haycraft, 495-96). In addition to Tristram Shandy, this set includes The Sermons of Mr. Yorick, A Sentimental Journey, and Sterne's letters, memoirs and other works.
Fine condition, a handsome set.