(London: Edward Moxon, 1840). 195 x 120 mm. (7 3/4 x 4 7/8"). Two volumes. Edited by Mrs. [Mary] Shelley. FIRST EDITION.
Pretty rose-pink three-quarter morocco over pink cloth by H. Wood (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), smooth spines with inlaid brown morocco shield with gilt titling, inlaid brown morocco banner lettered with the volume number, and a gilt spray of interlacing leafy vines rising from the tail edge and extending the length of the spine, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Front pastedowns with engraved pictorial bookplate of Louis V. Ledoux, signed "Charlotte A. Morton fecit 1901." Granniss 82; Ashley Library V, 91. Spines lightly sunned, trivial soiling to edges of boards, one corner lightly bumped, isolated small marginal smudges or trivial foxing, but an extremely appealing copy--clean and fresh internally in a pleasing binding with few signs of wear.
This posthumous collection of the great Romantic poet's prose writings was compiled, edited, and introduced by his widow. After Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned in 1822, Mary Shelley returned to England, where she edited her husband's works in 1824, printing many previously unpublished poems and supplying valuable notes. The present volume contains considerable additional material, published for the first time, under her careful editorship. Among the several items included here, the most important are Shelley's "Banquet," his "Defence of Poetry," and his letters. The first is a translation of Plato's "Symposium," a project that occupied the early weeks of the poet's residence in Italy. Day says that this "graceful, easy, and fluent" version is the best translation in English, and he says that "in the preface, Shelley's elevation of intuition over reason marks perhaps the most significant event in the poet's intellectual development." The second piece, which Yeats called "the profoundest essay on the foundation of poetry in English," maintains that poets, the vehicles of an inspiration outside their understanding and control, are both "the unacknowledged legislators of the world" and the epitomizers of an age, giving their period its fullest, truest self-expression. The letters, which are surprisingly unemotional, impersonal, and unpretentious, are of great autobiographical value. (Day)
Our binding was probably produced in the first third of the 20th century, and it is possible that the binder is the "H. Wood" listed in Packer as having established a business in 1890, or else a descendent. Mirjam Foote mentions an H. T. Wood in her article on Thomas Harrison in "Designer Bookbinder Review" (and reprinted, in part, in "Studies in the History of Bookbinding"), where she talks about Harrison as manager at Zaehnsdorf. Later, presumably as a step up, Harrison became manager "at H. T. Wood, whose proprietor he eventually became, and where his drive raised the firm's old [i.e., already established] reputation for high quality bindings." The firm was taken over in 1939 by Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Former owner Louis V. Ledoux (1880-1948) was an American businessman whose avocations included writing poetry and collecting Japanese prints. He was a noted authority on the latter subject, and also wrote literary criticism. His bookplate was created by American artist Charlotte A. Morton (1885-1974) and is featured in the collection of the Currier Museum of Art and the Pratt Institute Ex-Libris Collection. (ST16957c)
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PJP Catalog: 79.169