"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHO I AM OR WHAT I AM… BY HEAVEN! I'LL SHOW YOU": EXCEPTIONAL FIRST EDITION OF WELLS' THE INVISIBLE MAN
WELLS, H.G. The Invisible Man. A Grotesque Romance. London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1897. Octavo, original gilt-stamped pictorial red cloth. $7000.
First edition of Wells' popular and significant cautionary fable of overreaching scientific ambition.
Employing his characteristic "blend of fantasy and everyday detail" in this third of his "scientific romances," Wells "was probably the first writer to combine the traditional theme [of invisibility] with a sober and plausible-seeming explanation drawn from contemporary physics and chemistry" (Bergonzi, 113-14). Readers found The Invisible Man—unlike its immediate predecessor, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)—accessible and gripping. Joseph Conrad, in a December 1898 letter to Wells, praised the book: "Frankly—it is uncommonly fine. One can always see a lot in your work—there is always a 'beyond' to your books—but into this… you've managed to put an amazing quantity of effects." The Invisible Man remains not only an inescapable influence on modern science fiction but also a "classic study of scientific hubris brought to destruction" (Clute & Nicholls, 1313). An abridged version of the story first appeared in serial form in Pearson's Weekly during the summer of 1897. With publisher's ad leaf at rear. Currey, 419. Anatomy of Wonder II-1227. Small dealer description tipped to rear pastedown.
Interior fine, inner hinges expertly reinforced, small marginal paper repair to rear free endpaper, only very mild toning to spine of original cloth. An unusually lovely copy.