RARE SIGNED LIMITED LARGE-PAPER FIRST EDITION OF THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, SIGNED BY OSCAR WILDE, ONE OF ONLY 250 COPIES, BEAUTIFULLY BOUND IN FULL MOROCCO-GILT
WILDE, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. London, New York & Melbourne: Ward Lock, 1891. Octavo, later full green morocco gilt, top edge gilt, uncut. Housed in a custom full morocco clamshell box. $40,000.
The rare and most desirable large-paper first signed limited edition, number 20 of only 250 copies printed on Van Gelder handmade paper, signed by Oscar Wilde, beautifully bound in full morocco-gilt.
Considered Wilde's greatest work, The Picture of Dorian Gray is also his only novel, combining the supernatural elements of the Gothic novel with the sins of French decadent fiction. Wilde insists in the Preface, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That's all" (p. vi). Critics nevertheless attacked the work for its immorality. Though Wilde claimed, "I wrote this book entirely for my own pleasure… Whether it becomes popular or not is a matter of absolute indifference to me," he also responded to critics: "Leave my book, I beg you, to the immortality that it deserves." At least one contemporary review, nonetheless, praised this edition, "the book, with its unique and piquant binding and lettering, its characteristic title page and yet more characteristic preface, is a delight to eye and hand" (Glasgow Herald). Title, half title, and cover designed by Charles Ricketts, who designed many Wilde volumes. This deluxe signed edition is of considerably greater rarity and value than the unsigned first trade edition issued a few months earlier. Mason 329.
Interior fine, , front joint skillfully repaired, toning mainly to extremities. A striking near-fine copy of this rare and important landmark of English literature.