MELVILLE, Herman (1819-1891)
Moby Dick, or, The Whale
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. 12mo. (7 3/8 x 4 7/8 inches). xxiii, , 635, , pp. Publisher's ads in the rear. Foxing.
Publisher's red cloth, cover bordered in blind and with central Harper & Brother's circular stamp in blind, spine lettered in gilt, rebacked retaining the original spine, original brown/orange coated endpapers. Housed in a cloth box.
Rare first American edition of arguably the greatest work in American literature.
The first American edition followed the three-volume English edition by a month and contained some thirty-five passages which had been edited out of the English edition. "[Melville's] great book, Moby Dick, was a complete practical failure, misunderstood by the critics and ignored by the public; and in 1853 the Harpers' fire destroyed the plates of all of his books and most of the copies remaining in stock [only about sixty copies survived the fire] ... Melville's permanent fame must always rest on the great prose epic of Moby Dick, a book that has no equal in American literature for variety and splendor of style and for depth of feeling" (Dictionary of American Biography). "Moby Dick is the great conundrum-book. Is it a profound allegory with the white whale the embodiment of moral evil, or merely the finest story of the sea ever written?" (Grolier, American). This example complete with the six pages of advertisements in the rear and in the publisher's red "A" cloth.
BAL 13664; Grolier American 60; Johnson High Spots 57; Wright II:1701.