Moby Dick, or, the Whale
New York: Random House, 1930. Rockwell Kent. Hardcover. Duodecimo. xxxii, 825 pages. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Bound in black cloth over boards with titles and illustration stamped in silver on spine and upper board.
A stunning copy of what is widely regarded as the definitive edition of Moby Dick. Indeed, if not for this particular edition it is likely no one would know this book today. Melville's great novel was not well received when published in 1851, and it (and he) languished in relative obscurity through the rest of the 19th century.
Rockwell Kent was a superstar in the late 1920s world of fine illustrated editions. He produced these nearly 300 illustrations for a lavish edition that was printed in three volumes by The Lakeside Press in 1930. His inspiration came from his immersion in Melville's text as he worked over a period of years. The result was the closest thing to a Kent-Melville collaboration as was possible.
Random House got permission to reprint Lakeside's Kent-illustrated edition, and this handsome single volume trade edition was the result. Kent's illustrations had generated a lot of attention, so this was a coup for the trade publisher. Their eagerness to reprint Kent's designs led to an embarrassing blunder, however, as Random House chief Bennett Cerf recalled: "We were so excited about it, we forgot to put Herman Melville's name on the cover, so our edition of Moby Dick, to the vast amusement of everybody (The New Yorker spotted it), said only: 'Moby Dick, illustrated by Rockwell Kent.'" (Cerf. At Random, p. 72).
The accidental slight to Herman aside, Random House and Kent did a great job on this trade edition. Not only was Kent was a a brilliant illustrator, he was also a master at integrated design of the whole book. Everything about this edition is pleasing, from the superbly reproduced illustrations and the simple typography, to its agreeable heft and perfect fit in the hands. Its slight chunkiness even subtly evokes its subject. In short, this a great book in every sense--literarily, visually, and tactually.
We are very pleased to offer this beautiful copy of this pivotal edition, in original dust jacket.