First edition of the dramatic struggle of Captain Ahab to kill the White Whale, a stunning copy with none of the foxing that typically affects this book.
"...whale adventures wild as dreams, and powerful in their cumulated horrors..." – contemporary review in the MORNING ADVERTISER, October 1851
A fine balance of philosophy and comedy like DON QUIXOTE but with epic Miltonic undertones, MOBY DICK was not only Melville's most ambitious work to date, but became one of his biggest flops. His first two books, TYPEE and OMOO, were wildly successful and went through multiple early printings; MOBY DICK, on the other hand, was only given a second printing in 1855 because a fire at the Harpers warehouse destroyed a large number of unsold copies of the first edition. By Melville's death, MOBY DICK was out of print, and would have to wait until the 1920s for a critical resurrection. Technically, this is the first American edition by date of issue: however, at least part of the type of the British edition was set according to proofs from the American edition: "the evidence leans toward the American edition as representing Melville's final (and probably first) intention" (Tanselle). This book often suffers from heavy foxing: it is exceptionally unusual to see a copy this clean.
Read more: Tanselle, "Historical Note VI," 677-680 & 688, in Moby-Dick, Or The Whale: Volume 6, Scholarly Edition; Blanck, Bibliography of American Literature (BAL), 13664.
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. Full title: Moby-Dick; or, the whale. Thick 12mo. 7.25'' x 4.75''. Original blind-stamped blue cloth with publisher's circular device in center of both boards, gilt-lettered spine. Orange coated endpapers. Publisher's ads at rear. xxiv, 634, ,  pages. Housed in custom quarter red goatskin slipcase and red cloth chemise. Small contemporary ink stamp on front pastedown and ownership inscriptions on fly leaves. Hinges expertly and invisibly reinforced. Spine and edges of cloth faded to green; only light rubbing to extremities and wear to corners. Text clean.
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