Dr. Boli promised more rare first editions as part of his plot to disseminate virtual communism through the Internet. Here is another handful, again made up of American authors. The capitalist running-dog lackeys of imperialism cannot long stand against the relentless assault of virtual collectivism. We begin with Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote exactly one novel, which has always been one of the least read of his works.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Comprising the details of a mutiny and atrocious butchery on board the American brig Grampus, on her way to the South Seas, in the month of June, 1827. With an account of the recapture of the vessel by the survivers; their shipwreck and subsequent horrible suffering from famine; their deliverance by means of the British schooner Jane Guy; the brief cruise of the latter vessel in the Antarctic Ocean; her capture, and the massacre of her crew among a group of islands in the eighty-fourth parallel of southern latitude; together with the incredible adventures and discoveries still farther south to which that distressing calamity gave rise. New-York: Harper & Brothers, 1838. —America’s most notoriously difficult critic called this “a very silly book.” That critic, of course, was Edgar Allan Poe, who began this story in the Southern Literary Messenger (where, you might say, he was very intimate with the editor), abandoned it, and picked it up later, all apparently with no notion of how the story was going to turn out in the end. In fact, it would not be too much to say that it never does turn out in the end. It is worth noting that this story is not the first depiction in fiction of a warm climate at the South Pole, The Monikins by Fenimore Cooper having preceded it by three years. This is the first American edition, in a very good scan at archive.org.
Now we turn to a forgotten sensation novel by an author who was quite popular in his time: J. W. De Forest, who is remembered today only as the author of Miss Ravenel’s Conversion from Secession to Loyalty, a Civil War novel remarkable for giving away its entire plot in its title. De Forest does not make the same mistake in this novel, a story of the Wilkie Collins school involving a murder, the victim’s will, and every clue pointing toward the hero.
The Wetherel Affair. J. W. De Forest. New York: Sheldon and Company, 1873. —Google Books misreads the date as 1878, owing to a poor scan of the title page. Dr. Boli is quite certain about the date 1873 because he has a copy of this edition (which is the first) in his own enormous library, bound in a volume with two American editions of novels by Dumas, making a very thick book marked “Miscellaneous Novels” on the spine.
Returning to a writer who has certainly not been forgotten, Dr. Boli presents not one but two copies of the first edition of The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is sometimes worth while to have a second copy of a scanned book, since the overworked librarians who do the work of scanning sometimes slip.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is far more famous as a poet than as a novelist, and his most famous stories—Evangeline and Hiawatha—were written in verse. His prose romances have been largely forgotten, though the poet’s reputation kept them running through edition after edition through most of the latter nineteenth century.
Hyperion, a romance. By the author of “Outre-Mer.” New York: Published by Samuel Colman, 1839. —This first edition is exceedingly rare, since the publisher failed, and half the edition was seized by creditors and probably never heard from again. Longfellow revised the text somewhat in later editions. The romance, as was usual for the time, was published in two volumes; Dr. Boli has cobbled together a complete set for you from a copy of the first volume (in a very good scan) at archive.org and a copy of the second at Google Books.
Volume I (at archive.org).
Volume II (at Google Books).
Finally, Herman Melville again. Moby-Dick was a failure; but Melville might have recovered from it if he had returned to writing more simpleminded sea tales, full of fetching Polynesian lasses garbed only by Nature. Instead, he gave the world Pierre; or, the Ambiguities, and drove a stake through the heart of his reputation as a commercial author. Nowadays, of course, far more more people read Pierre than read the disposable novels that succeeded where Pierre failed.
Pierre; or, the Ambiguities. By Herman Melville. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1852.
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