Item #2845 Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]. HERMAN. KENT MELVILLE, ROCKWELL.
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]
Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]

Moby Dick [Moby-Dick]

"But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What is the chief element he employs? There stand his trees, each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke. Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in their hill-side blue. But though the picture lies thus tranced, and though this pine-tree shakes down its sighs like leaves upon this shepherd’s head, yet all were vain, unless the shepherd’s eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him." -Chapter 1, "Loomings"

FIRST TRADE EDITION OF ROCKWELL KENT'S ILLUSTRATED MOBY DICK – THE EDITION THAT MADE MOBY DICK FAMOUS.

It may be hard to believe, but for many decades Moby Dick was largely ignored by the public. That began to change in the 1920s, when literary critics began reappraising Melville’s work of genius. But the true turning point came in 1926, when Thomas Donnelly of Lakeside Press announced the Four American Books campaign, meant to showcase American writing and printing. William Kittridge, head of design and typography, reached out to Rockwell Kent and asked him to illustrate Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast. Kent suggested Moby Dick instead, and the rest was history. In the words of Kittridge, the result was “the greatest book done in this generation” and “the greatest illustrated book ever done in America.”

Kent’s illustrations came out in a large, three-volume limited edition for Lakeside Press, as well as a trade edition for Random House. It was this trade edition that rocketed Moby Dick to fame, and introduced the public to one of the greatest matches between illustrator and subject matter in the history of printing. Kent saw his ink and wash illustrations as “literary woodcutting,” jet-black doorways into the “midnight darkness enveloping human existence, the darkness of the human soul, the abyss, – such is the mood of Moby-Dick.”

Although the two never met, Kent and Melville had a great deal in common. Both were deeply influenced by transcendentalist thinkers like Emerson; both were adventurers who voyaged to exotic lands and chronicled their travels. Perhaps it was this kinship that explains the success of Kent’s illustrations. Less bulky than the limited edition, the beautifully designed 1930 Random House trade edition offered people an eminently readable way to experience this remarkable union of literary and artistic genius.

New York: Random House, 1930. Thick octavo, original decorated cloth, original dust jacket. Book fine, with cloth exceptionally bright; dust jacket with very minor tape reinforcement to two spots on verso of rear panel, with crease visible on recto; light general wear and a few very faint spots of dampstaining on front panel.

An exceptionally beautiful copy of a book that is notoriously difficult to find in good condition.

Price: $3,200 .

See all items in Art & Photography, Literature
See all items by ,