(London: The Navarre Society Ltd., [ca. 1900]). 180 x 113 mm. (7 1/8 x 4 1/2"). Six volumes. Edited by George Saintsbury. One of 2,000 copies.
VERY FINE BURGUNDY MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT AND ONLAID, BY THE HARCOURT BINDERY OF BOSTON (stamp-signed on front flyleaf), boards with triple fillet border, EACH COVER WITH AN ELABORATE HERALDIC FRAME OF GILT AND ONLAID GREEN MOROCCO around an empty oval, raised bands, very pretty gilt spine compartments featuring looping tendril frame enclosing a charming flower centerpiece, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Six frontispieces by George Cruikshank showing scenes from the book. A VERY FINE COPY, the bindings especially bright, and the text with virtually no signs of use.
This is a very attractively bound copy of Fielding's 18th century classic and a landmark publication, first printed in 1749. Cross says that "No one before Fielding had ever written a novel comparable with his in its reliance upon contemporary facts of human nature, and this brilliant and innovative narrative met with such immediate commercial success that the first printing was sold out before its printing could be finished, and at least four more editions were published in the same year as the first." "Tom Jones" is divided into 18 books, each preceded by an introductory essay (wherein can be found some of Fielding's best prose) on some theme more or less connected with the story, in the manner subsequently adopted by Thackeray and George Eliot. The plot begins with the finding and raising of Tom by Squire Allworthy and his sister Bridget and then follows Tom's adventures, many amorous, after his banishment from the Allworthy house prompted by bad behavior. In the comic ending, mysteries are revealed and relationships set aright. Day says this was the first avowed novel in English (Fielding's precursor, Defoe, claimed his stories were true and Richardson said that his were akin to sermons), and a work that some still call the greatest novel in English because of its attention to characters set against the backdrop of society. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement that had spread to New England, the Harcourt Bindery was founded in 1900 to provide hand bookbinding services for the books produced by a burgeoning number of private presses. With plenty of shelf appeal, the present set is an excellent example of their high-quality work. (ST15199a)
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PJP Catalog: Sets1.008