A Rare Book To Begin with, and Much Rarer, as here, in Original Boards


(London: John Murray, 1824). 232 x 143 mm. (9 1/8 x 5 5/8"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION, with five items not included in the later First American Edition.

PUBLISHER'S BLUE PAPER BOARDS, PAPER LABELS ON SPINE, EDGES UNTRIMMED (recently resewn and rebacked, using the original backstrips). In a blue cloth chemise and inside a matching (slightly rubbed and soiled) slipcase, its black morocco-backed spine designed to appear on the shelf as two volumes with raised bands and gilt titling. Front pastedowns with engraved book label from which the name has been removed. BAL 10115, variant B (with notice). Corners worn, boards slightly soiled, but the original temporary bindings expertly restored now and extremely pleasing. Very faint offsetting here and there, just the most trivial isolated soiling, otherwise A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, the leaves especially fresh and clean, and the margins inordinately ample.

According to Day, this sequel to the very popular "Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon" was Irving's own favorite of his fictional works. Its stories are divided into four parts: "Strange Stories by a Nervous Gentleman," "Buckthorne and His Friends," "The Italian Banditti," and "The Money Diggers." The London edition contains a preface "To the Reader" and four stories--"The Adventure of the German Student," "The Belated Travellers," "Notoriety," and "A Practical Philosopher"--that did not appear in the American version until the 1825 second edition. Although a success with the public, the work was not well received by critics, and Irving's disappointment with the reviews spurred him to go to Spain, where he spent three and a half years, during which time he turned from writing fiction to producing history and biography. Modern critics have been kinder to the "Tales," with Day praising the "unduly neglected" "Devil and Tom Walker," a Faustian story set in New England and the inspiration for Stephen Vincent Benét's "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Although born to struggling immigrant parents in New York City, Irving (1783-1859) became a sophisticated citizen of the world, first as a traveller in England, France, and Germany and later as a political appointee, serving in the American legations in London and Madrid. His writings, accomplished in an amiable and fluent style, earned international recognition; partly because they were often set in foreign locales, they formed one of the first literary bridges established between the Old and New Worlds. "Traveller" is not a common book: ABPC records five copies since 1975 (just one this century), with a single copy being in publisher's boards (no copy of the first American edition of 1824 has appeared at auction since at least 1975).

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PJP Catalog: BOS19BF.043