(Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1910-11). 279 x 159 mm. (11 x 6 1/4"). 10 volumes. Large Paper Edition. ONE OF 500 COPIES.
LOVELY DARK OLIVE BROWN THREE-QUARTER CRUSHED MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, marbled sides and endpapers, raised bands, spine compartments densely gilt with floral and foliate tools emanating from a large central rose, top edges gilt, other edges untrimmed, THE SET ENTIRELY UNOPENED. Vignette title pages, a map of the Lake District, and 75 PHOTOGRAVURE PLATES (with letterpress tissue guards), including one hand-colored plate at the beginning that duplicates a black and white plate elsewhere in the volume. Title page in red and black. Each volume with full-page tipped-in bookplate of Fannie May Howard. IN REMARKABLY FINE CONDITION, essentially without any wear, virtually pristine internally, and obviously used so little that the volumes open unwillingly.
This is a really beautiful and almost untouched set of the works of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), who changed English poetry forever. When he (and Samuel Taylor Coleridge) published "Lyrical Ballads" in 1798-1800, he undertook the revolutionary modification of the entrenched traditional artificial verse styles in order to capture forceful sincerity and elemental human emotions. His radical purpose was nothing short of the reformation of poetry by deposing an artificial literary tradition and substituting a new poetics, more in keeping with normal contemporary speech patterns. Folk ballads, as "natural" poetry, formed his models for pieces that reveal a sense of lasting joy in nature and in experiences common to all humans. And there was considerably more to his poetic output afterwards, as he lived and wrote for another half century beyond the appearance of this landmark publication. Among other things, Wordsworth established himself as the first great English writer since Milton to produce a substantial number of notable poems in the sonnet form. Our edition of his complete poetry includes an index to titles and to first lines as well as an essay entitled "William Wordsworth" by Hamilton Wright Mabie. The publisher's note at the front says that the illustrations here are "intended to reproduce the atmosphere of Wordsworth's poetry through the medium of a remarkable series of photographs taken by Walmsley Brothers of Ambleside, England. These artists have lived all their lives in the Wordsworth country, and are enthusiastic admirers of the great poet, and it is hoped that their photographs, the product of a genuine love of Wordsworth, a wide and intimate knowledge of the Wordsworth country, and a keen artistic sense, will add materially to the reader's pleasure [as well as] afford a fitting accompaniment to the text." (ST11377)
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PJP Catalog: ELIST5.033