MELVILLE, Herman (1819-1891). Mardi: and a Voyage Thither. London: Richard Bentley, 1849.

The first edition of Melville's third novel, rare in the original cloth. The first book of Melville's published by Richard Bentley and the only triple-decker aside from The Whale. Mardi was originally offered to John Murray but turned down due to frustration over the sales of Omoo, lack of international copyright, and Melville’s high asking price. Bentley was able to claim publishing rights after paying 200 guineas. It was a gamble: "[Mardi's] complicated allegories earned it harsh reviews and few readers" (Reese). Rare at auction: ABPC records only four copies (including this one), the most recent in 2011. BAL 13658.

Three volumes, octavo. Half titles in vols 2 & 3 (vol. 2 with front endpaper and half-title torn with loss at upper corner, last few leaves of vol. 1 unopened). Original pale green cloth, endpapers with all-over pattern and advertisements (rubbing and soiling, spines browned, vol. 1 spine rebacked and dull with most of original spine laid down, vols 2 &3 with some splitting to cloth at joints). Custom chemise and slipcase. Provenance: Samuel Byron (ownership inscription to vols 2 & 3) – Charles Johnson (ownership inscription to vols 2 & 3) – Christie’s New York, 15 December 1995, lot 27.

Exhibited: "A Herman Melville Collection ... on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, from the collection of William S. Reese," Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, 1991, no. 7.
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