"Fielding's novel of Tom Jones is certainly one of the most admirable performances in the world. The structure of the story perhaps has never been equalled; nor is there any work that more frequently or more happily excites emotions of the most elevated and delicious generosity."-William Godwin, "Of English Style", The Enquirer
FIRST EDITION OF FIELDING'S MASTERPIECE.
Besides being an extremely prolific writer, Henry Fielding was a successful magistrate, founder of the Metropolitan Police, and pioneer of the comic novel. Tom Jones, the book that established this idea of the comic novel, received very mixed reviews upon publication: Sameul Taylor Coleridge said of him, "And how charming, how wholesome, Fielding always is! To take him up after Richardson, is like emerging from a sick room heated by stoves, into an open lawn.", while Samuel Johnson wrote "Sir, there is more knowledge of the heart in one letter of Richardson's, than in all Tom Jones."
Nonetheless, "Such was the demand that all 2,500 copies in print had already been sold by the date announced for its a official publication, a phenomenon that one observer believed to be 'an unheard-of case.' Tom Jones quickly sold 10,000 copies, making it one of the great best-sellers of its time; it has never since been out of print." (John Allen Stevenson, The Real History of Tom Jones).
First edition, with the errata leaf in vol. 1, and cancels B9-10 (I), B4-5 (II), H8-10, M3(III) and N8 (V). Rothschild 850. London: A. Millar, 1749. 12mo, contemporary full calf rebacked. 6 vols. With handsome bookplate of noted collector Arthur Wilmer Lissauer on front pastedown. Light wear to bindings, very minor occasional foxing. A very handsome set.
Price: $12,500 .