Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York, Harper & Brothers. 1851.
8vo. 635pp. + 6pp. Ads. Bound in mid 20th century half burgundy morocco gilt over marbled
boards. Black title label. Edges marbled. Tight, clean and handsome. Brown endpapers, some
very minor spotting but otherwise remarkably clean considering this title's propensity for
heavy foxing, an exceptionally pretty copy of what is unarguably a great novel. The US first is
pre-dated by the UK Bentley edition, if only by a slight margin, and was upon publication not
received overwhelmingly well. Couple this with poor paper stock and binding cloth (the paper
of this copy seems to have weathered the century and a half rather well), a subsequent
warehouse fire, and a relatively slow public uptake on how beautifully written, observed and
paced Moby Dick actually is (not to mention funny), and you have a perfect recipe for
subsequent scarcity. Cataloguing titles of this rather monolithic degree is always a little
tricky; there's nothing new to be said about a book that everyone is at least cursorily familiar
with, about which the academic and social importance are known, and the history of which is
pretty public knowledge. It's a really nice copy of a very important book ™, in a clean and
handsome binding. Influential (“KHAAAAAANNNN!!”), rare, complex, and worthy of a place
in anyone's collection.