(New York: Covici-Friede, 1930). 389 x 262 mm. (15 1/4 x 10 1/4"). Two volumes. Translated into modern English by William Van Wyck. No. 152 OF 924 COPIES on rag paper SIGNED BY THE ILLUSTRATOR (from a total edition of 999).
Publisher's original pale beige linen, top edges gilt, others untrimmed. WITH 80 WOODCUT ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROCKWELL KENT, comprised of 25 full-page in black and brown and 55 black and white head- and tailpieces (many repeated). Text in double columns, with modern English adjacent to the original Chaucerian English. Rockwellkentiana, p. 62. One spine a bit browned, a hint of browning to the cloth elsewhere, small snag at the head of one joint and tail of another, but the bindings entirely solid and generally very well preserved, and especially fine internally, the text and illustrations quite clean, bright, and fresh.
Textually distinguished by a line-for-line modern English translation printed alongside the original Middle English, this is the grand edition of Chaucer's classic illustrated by the renowned American painter, printmaker, and writer Rockwell Kent. An artist with transcendentalist tendencies, Kent (1882-1971) spent much of his career living in, visiting, and producing images of rural or remote locations. In "The 20th Century Book," John Lewis says that although Kent's "most interesting illustrations were drawn from his own travel books . . . he has illustrated a number of other books, including an effective edition of Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales.' The full-page illustrations for this book were of single figures, in Kent's simple engraved technique, printed in black and brown." However simple they might seem to be, those figures in folio size are imposing, and one cannot help but take note of them, as much for their stark, unadorned beauty as for their expanse. The Kent "Tales" has always been considered an impressive and desirable publication: this "regular" edition (as Covici-Friede advertised it) sold for $50, a very hefty sum for a new book during the Great Depression. Unlike the present copy, this work in original linen is commonly found in considerable distress, or else rebound. (CMH1826)
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