(Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883). 230 x 156 mm. (9 x 6 1/8"). FIRST EDITION, Second State (without the tailpiece showing Mark Twain in flames on page 441, and with the caption, "The St. Charles Hotel," page 443).
Original brown publisher's cloth blocked in black and gilt. With more than 300 illustrations in the text, 14 full-page (blank on verso, but counted in the pagination). BAL 3411. Slight rubbing to corners and to ends of spine, one corner somewhat bumped, leaves a little browned at edges, a couple of faint marginal spots, but an excellent copy, the binding entirely solid, the gilt very lustrous, and the clean, smooth text showing only the most trivial signs of use.
According to Day, Clemens' nostalgic evocation of the lost steamboat era contrasts the "remembered glory of the river before the Civil War" with "the sleazy debasement of the river in the 1880's." Clemens trained as a riverboat pilot's apprentice, and he uses the Mississippi River itself and the pilot navigating its treacherous and ever-changing waters as symbols of the uncertain nature of existence and of "the disciplined will imposing meaning on this chaotic flood." (Day) While it is not difficult to obtain copies of this work, the present item stands out for its fine internal condition--it seems unlikely it was ever read and its original cloth binding, which is insubtantial for a book of this size, is unusually well preserved. (ST15103)
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PJP Catalog: SE19BF.039