"FOR EACH MAN KILLS THE THING HE LOVES": FIRST EDITION OF WILDE'S THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL, 1898
WILDE, Oscar. The Ballad of Reading Gaol by C.3.3. London: Leonard Smithers, 1898. Slim octavo, original half cream cloth with cinnamon cloth boards, uncut. $3600.
First edition, one of only 800 copies printed on handmade paper.
Inspired by his prison experience and comprised in part by a plea for penal reform, The Ballad of Reading Gaol was the last work Wilde completed before his death in 1900. "In his comedies the miscreants were always pardoned, but in the Ballad, while ultimately forgiven, they are treated vindictively by their fellows, who are equally guilty… There is no doubt that Wilde had once again touched a great subject and left his fingerprints on it… once read, it is never forgotten" (Ellmann, 532-34). Mason 371.
A few pinholes to two preliminary leaves, interior otherwise fine. One tiny inkspot to front cover, spine slightly toned. A handsome, extremely good copy of this scarce first edition.