(Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883). 228 x 146 mm. (9 x 5 3/4"). 624 pp. (including frontispiece). FIRST EDITION, First State (with urn and flames tailpiece on p. 441; vignette on p. 443 captioned "The St. Louis Hotel").
Publisher's tan half calf over marbled boards, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with floral ornaments at center and corners, one red and one green morocco label, matching marbled endpapers and edges. With more than 300 illustrations in the text, 14 full-page (blank on verso, but counted in the pagination). BAL 3411. Trivial soiling to leather, extremities a little rubbed, faint small stain to one margin but still an extremely attractive copy, quite clean and fresh internally, in a solid, pleasing binding with no serious condition issues.
In the sought-after publishers' special binding of half calf, this is a very pleasing copy of the first state of the work based on Clemens' days working on a steamboat on the Mississippi River, an experience that gave him his pseudonym, Mark Twain (a term for two fathoms, the depth of water needed for a steamboat to operate safely). Day says this 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) In the opinion of critic Leonard Kriegel, it is "a book to be ranked with 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn' as one of the indisputably great works in the Twain canon, a book that measures the American future by the boundaries of the American past, a bridge between the world of Thomas Jefferson and the world of John D. Rockefeller." The book is far from scarce in the original cloth, but it is difficult to find, as here, in well-preserved half calf from the publisher. (ST16798)
Add to Cart Price: $4,000.00
PJP Catalog: 78.193