(Cambridge, Massachusetts: Riverside Press, 1904). 222 x 146 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 3/4"). 16 volumes. Last three volumes (containing "Letters") edited by Charles Eliot Norton. Edition de Luxe. ONE OF 1,000 COPIES.
VERY HANDSOME DARK GREEN MOROCCO, EXTRAVAGANTLY GILT, covers with a wavy gilt border and charming floral ornaments at corners, central panel (with square-notched corners) formed by six parallel gilt lines; raised bands, spine compartments attractively gilt with scrolling flowers and foliage enclosing a floral fleuron centerpiece, wide turn-ins with elaborate gilt decoration featuring many large and small roses and leaves on stylized lattice work, the turn-ins enclosing SCARLET-COLORED POLISHED MOROCCO DOUBLURES, crimson watered silk free endleaves, top edge gilt, other edges rough trimmed, MOSTLY UNOPENED (six of the volumes entirely unopened, and all but one of the others largely so). With 80 mounted photogravure illustrations on India paper (including frontispieces, one double plate, and one plate with four portraits). Original tissue guards. Joints of volume I with a hint of wear, (a half dozen other joints with very slight rubbing), spines evenly sunned to an attractive olive brown (though a handful of spines a bit lighter than the others), one small cover scuff, two leaves roughly opened (with no serious consequences), other isolated trivial imperfections, but a nearly fine set in quite attractive bindings, the leather lustrous, and the (mostly unopened) text essentially undisturbed.
Though not to be found atop the Mt. Olympus of American literature, James Russell Lowell (1819-91) made significant contributions over a long period of time as a journalist, editor, critic, poet, philosopher, and essayist. He was the first editor of the "Atlantic Monthly" and later co-editor of the "North American Review"; he was the second president of the Modern Languages Association; and he achieved literary prominence not only in America, but abroad, where he enjoyed a triumphal European tour from 1872-74. He was at his best when dispensing folk wit and wisdom, something that obviously informs his first significant work, "The Biglow Papers," which Day describes as "a masterpiece in the genre of folksy philosophizing in American dialect." Among other important contributions is his long poem "A Fable for Critics," which includes--in not always laudatory terms--his personal characterizations of major contemporaneous American writers and his reviews of their work. These bindings look extremely good on the shelf, and the doublures of scarlet--especially as they face crimson-colored watered silk--are a bold highlight of the flamboyant decoration. (ST11374)
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PJP Catalog: WS21VF.009