(London: John Murray, 1841). 242 x 162 mm. (9 1/2 x 6 1/4"). xvi, 320 pp.
ATTRACTIVE DARK TURQUOISE-BLUE MOROCCO BY TOUT (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in), covers ruled in gilt, arabesque cornerpieces of lace-like flowers and stippling, raised bands, compartments densely gilt with all-over lacy design, gilt lettering, gilt-ruled turn-ins with long floral sprays at each corner, brown brocade endleaves, top edge gilt, others trimmed. With 62 engravings after William Finden, including a frontispiece, an added engraved title page, a folding map (featuring a frame of scenic roundels) showing the course of Harold's travels, and 59 engraved vignettes used as headpieces and tailpieces, with the original tissue guards. ◆Spine very lightly sunned, tiny snag at tail of spine, some scarcely noticeable tiny abrasions on back cover, gutter open after half title (but the binding quite solid), occasional pale foxing (a little heavier to first and last few leaves), but overall in excellent condition, the contents very clean and in a lovely binding bright with gilt.
This is an attractively illustrated copy of Byron's lengthy narrative poem recounting the travels of a young man in search of enlightenment, offered here in a very appealing binding by the Tout workshop. In the course of the work's four parts, the title character journeys through the Iberian peninsula, the Baltics, Albania, Greece, Belgium, Italy, and elsewhere, and, as a result, the Byronic hero--struggling with morality, cynicism, and a distrust of authority--is born. When the first two cantos of "Childe Harold" were published in 1812, Byron (1788-1824) became an overnight sensation. As Day observes, "No previous poem in English literature enjoyed such immediate triumph." While the first part of the poem is a fine example of what Day terms Byron's "exuberant Romanticism," the third and fourth cantos, published in 1816 and 1818, respectively, demonstrate the "Romantic pessimism" or "Weltschmerz" ("World Grief"), at which Byron excelled. Not usually given to overstatement, Day writes of the third canto: "hardly any other work in literature possesses the same titanic power and grand flourish." The illustrations here are by the esteemed engraver William Finden (1787-1852), who also did the engravings for Smirke's "Don Quixote" and many well-known travel books. The handsome binding is a credit to the Tout workshop, which turned out consistently fine work and was especially notable for its elaborate gilt tooling. (ST17640L)