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George Eliot


      1871 1871 - MIDDLEMARCH in the original serial parts in wrappers Eliot, George [pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans]. MIDDLEMARCH. A Study of Provincial Life. [In Eight Serial Parts.] Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1871 (for Part I; 1872 for Parts III, V & VII). Original light green wrappers decorated in black, with later matching light green paper spines. 8 parts. First Edition, in the original eight serial parts, of George Eliot's famous "study of provincial life." Part of the novel follows Dorothea Brooke, idealistic and ardent, who seeks dedication to some worthy cause. She believes she has found it in her marriage to Edward Casaubon, an elderly pedant who is devoted to the immense task of writing a 'Key to all the Mythologies'. She is rapidly disillusioned; he spends their honeymoon on tireless research. Part of the novel also follows Tertius Lydgate, the ambitious doctor who yearns for scientific discovery and who strives. for reforms in medical practice. He falls in love with Rosamund Vincy, and discovers too late that his wife is interested in nothing but the effect her person makes. MIDDLEMARCH is often considered George Eliot's greatest achievement: The canvas is broad, and the characters numerous; the novel is one of the finest in the language and George Eliot's greatest work. Her control of the manifold strands of her story never weakens and neither does her obervation of a provincial town. She knew that sort of world intimately. [CGEL] Serialization of MIDDLEMARCH began the year after Charles Dickens's death, and the idea of serial parts was now dying too. In an effort to save the practice (and the extra profits, from issuing a novel both in parts and in book form), publishers in the 1870s came up with this last-ditch effort of issuing novels in eight wrappered five shilling parts (paginated for its ultimate four-volumes-in-cloth format). Although MIDDLEMARCH was a commercial success, this idea of fewer-but-larger (and pricier) serial parts was a complete failure; in 1875-1876 Anthony Trollope's THE PRIME MINISTER and George Eliot's DANIEL DERONDA came out in the same eight-part / four-volume format, but with that the experiment ended. This set of parts, complete with front and rear wrappers in place, was bound up in four half-leather volumes, soon after publication. The eight parts have recently been "liberated" from those old bindings, returning to their original-issue state. They bear several effects from that binding-up: the ads and the next-book notice slips were not preserved (but the only errata slip, in Part IV, is present); the paper spines were not preserved so each part is now backed in matching-but-unprinted light green paper; and the margins of the pages and wrappers were slightly trimmed down at the time of rebinding (not affecting any print outside or inside, but in some instances touching the front wrapper decoration). Also, whereas the set described by Parrish has all four sets of preliminary leaves in the final part, this set has them properly distributed in PartsI, III, V and VII. (The rear wrapper for Part I is variant from the one described by Parrish, as was the case with the Jackson set cited below.) With the exception of the factors noted above, and light pencil marks alongside occasional passages, this set is in FINE CONDITION. Because the wrappers spent more than a century protected within bindings, they are in much better condition than if they had not been. MIDDLEMARCH in parts has become not just the most difficult of George Eliot's novels to find, but one of the rarest of all Victorian literature. After decades of no sets surfacing, two nice-but-not-fine sets recently did: the Self copy realized $68,500.00 in 2009, and the Jackson copy realized $56,250.00 in 2011. This set is not in that category of originality, but it is a seldom-occurring opportunity to acquire an attractive set for a fraction of the price. Parrish pp 29-33; also see Sadleir 815 and Wolff 2059. Housed in two clamshel [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]

      [Bookseller: Sumner & Stillman [ABAA]]
Last Found On: 2012-10-22          Check current availability from:     AbeBooks


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