(Garden City and New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1920-26). 222 x 152 mm. (8 3/4 x 6"). 22 volumes (without the two volumes of "Life and Letters" published in 1928). Sun-dial Edition. ONE OF 735 COPIES, SIGNED BY CONRAD.
FINE--AND ESPECIALLY FLAMBOYANT--LILAC MOROCCO, ELABORATELY GILT, BY STIKEMAN, covers panelled with single and double gilt fillets and intricate scrolling foliate cornerpieces, raised bands, spine attractively gilt in ruled compartments with marine ornaments (seashell or anchor) as centerpiece and with scrolling cornerpieces, CRIMSON MOROCCO DOUBLURES, the front doublures with a central panel of blue morocco, wide turn-ins with alternating floral tools, doublures decorated with wavy gilt lines and (at corners) floral bouquets, blue central panels with a large gilt sailing vessel at middle, watered silk endleaves, morocco hinges, all edges gilt. Frontispiece portrait. WITH AN AUTOGRAPH POSTCARD SIGNED BY CONRAD tipped in at front (see below). Also with the signature of Richard Curle (author of "Joseph Conrad, a Study" and many other critical works), written next to his printed name as the dedicatee of Volume 16. Spines uniformly faded to an even chestnut brown, a hint of rubbing to a handful of joints and corners (only), one opening in one volume with marginal spots, but QUITE A HANDSOME SET IN FINE CONDITION, the text virtually pristine, the covers bright, and the wear to the leather entirely minor.
Polish-born Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) led a roving life as a sailor aboard French and British ships trading in exotic ports of Asia, South America, and Africa before he began his career as a novelist with "Almayer's Folly" in 1895. He wrote in English, in a style sometimes characterized as "impressionistic," with a phenomenal command of the language, despite not having learned it until he was an adult. Conrad's stories of the sea fascinate the reader not only for their remote settings and adventurous plots, but also for their psychological veracity and investigaton of moral issues, typified by the structurally innovative novel "Lord Jim" and the novellas "The Nigger of the Narcissus" and "Heart of Darkness," the latter describing a journey up the Congo. Although many of his works are set on the seas or on faraway islands, "Nostromo" is the account of political intrigue in a small South American state, and "Under Western Eyes" is a suspenseful story of a secret agent among Russian revolutionaries. This set was bound by one of America's best. According to the catalogue of the Frederick Maser Collection, during the period from the retirement of William Matthews to the establishment of the Club Bindery, there was no better binder in America than Henry Stikeman, who exhibited "extraordinary skill . . . in design, inlaying, and tooling." The present volumes have an outward appearance not unlike other bindings by Stikeman, but the doublures, with their bold color combination and animated decoration, depart from his more traditional designs. Dated 4 June, the tipped-in postcard of some 140 words is from Conrad to his agent, James Brand Pinker. The message alludes to an apparent automobile breakdown, which prompts Conrad to apologize to Pinker for having to experience "the boredom and horrors of hanging about the roads miles from anywhere." Also mentioned in the postcard is the arrival of Hugh Walpole, who had appeared at 10 the previous evening and seems still to be in bed. Between the set's considerable shelf attractiveness, the limited and signed nature of the edition, and the additional autograph material, this is an item of very special appeal. (ST11370)
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PJP Catalog: 61.122