London: Adam & Charles Black, 1897. Hardcover. The "Victoria Edition", twenty-five volumes (complete), duodecimo size, approx. 11,800 pp. Near fine. Item #CNSZ06
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was an amazingly talented man, serving daily in the law profession and politics while at the same time writing a large body of work. In addition to the Waverley Novels (for which he is considered the inventor of the genre of the modern historical novel), he was also a poet and playwright, and authored volumes of history, essays, and a biography on Napoleon Bonaparte. While his works are not as widely read today as they once were, he is still considered a giant among "modern" authors with many of his stories being adapted for the stage and screen; today, he is considered by many to be "an important innovator and a key figure in the development of Scottish and world literature, and particularly as the principal inventor of the historical novel" (n.b., quote from Wiki).
This twenty-five volume half-leather set presents a selection of Scott's works which were most popular at the turn of the last century; see below for the specific titles. Of particular interest to us is the "General Preface", dated 1829, found on pp. five through nineteen of the first volume in the set, "Waverley" (appropriately enough). Scott opens with: "Having undertaken to give an Introductory Account of the compositions which are here offered to the public, with Notes and Illustrations, the Author, under whose name they are now for the first time collected, feels that he has the delicate task of speaking more of himself and his personal concerns, than may perhaps be either graceful or prudent..."; he continues to present a short autobiography and speaks to that period of time during which the Novels were published anonymously, giving an interesting glimpse of the personality behind the man.
___DESCRIPTION: Bound in half tan calf, spines with two leather spine labels with gilt lettering, the other compartments richly decorated with gilt, marbled paper boards, top edges gilt, marbled endpapers which match the boards, tissue-guarded frontispiece in each volume, title page in red and green with a wide decorated border of thistles (the official flower of Scotland, adapted as a symbol of defence), both single blossoms and intertwining stems, every volume with one or two additional smaller illustrations, usually a chapter headpiece at the beginning, most of the volumes begin with an "Advertisement " (or a "Preface", or a "Dedicatory Epistle"), followed by an Introduction, the text followed by "Notes", an Appendix, and a Glossary "of Certain Scotch Words and Phrases" (note that not all of these are present in all volumes, but seem to have been included as called for); duodecimo size (7 3/8" by 5 1/8"); volumes with their pagination are as follows (page totals only given, all volumes begin with a series title and volume title page, which are pp. [i-iv]): Volume I, "Waverley, or 'Tis Sixty Years Since", 507 pp.; Volume II,"Guy Mannering", 451 pp.; Volume III, "The Antiquary", 442 pp.; Volume IV, "Rob Roy", 479 pp.; Volume V, "Old Mortality", 456 pp.; Volume VI, "A Legend of Montrose and The Black Dwarf", 387 pp.; Volume VII, "The Heart of Midlothian", 574 pp.; Volume VIII, "The Bride of Lammermoor", 341 pp.; Volume IX, "Ivanhoe", 488 pp.; Volume X, "The Monastery", 447 pp.; Volume XI, "The Abbot", 467 pp.; Volume XII, "Kenilworth", 483 pp.; Volume XIII,"The Pirate", 484 pp.; Volume XIV, "The Fortunes of Nigel", 504 pp.; Volume XV, "Peveril of the Peak", 642 pp.; Volume XVI, "Quentin Durward", 496 pp.; Volume XVII, "St. Ronan's Well", 449 pp.; Volume XVIII, "Redgauntlet", 468 pp.; Volume XIX, "The Betrothed", 511 pp.; Volume XX, "The Talisman", with the continuation of "Chronicles of the Canongate", and with "The Two Drovers", "My Aunt Margaret's Mirror", "The Tapestried Chamber", and "Death of the Laird's Jock", 424 pp.; Volume XXI, "Woodstock", 507 pp.; Volume XXII, "The Fair Maid of Perth", 484 pp.; Volume XXIII, "Anne of Geierstein", 494 pp.; Volume XXIV, "Count Robert of Paris", 418 pp.; and Volume XXV, "The Surgeon's Daughter and Castle Dangerous", 419 pp. Note that the first volume, "Waverley", contains the "General Preface" and the final volume, "Surgeon's Daughter", contains a "General Index" for the set which gives the volume number for the listed entries.
___CONDITION: Overall the set is near fine, with clean boards, the leather shelfbacks with truly minimal wear, straight corners with minimal rubbing, strong, square text blocks with solid hinges, the interiors are clean and bright, and the set is entirely free of prior owner markings; of the twenty-five volumes, we would grade two as very good plus due to a bit more wear at the head of the spines (but no loss), one of the volumes has a rear hinge just beginning to start, one volume has a few leaves with a light crease in the top corner, and one volume, "Old Mortality", with a few pencil markings dated 1961 on the front flyleaf from a prior bookseller (who apparently didn't realize they were not marking the first volume of the set). A handsome set, emminently readable and a joy to include in one's collection on the shelves.
___POSTAGE: Please note that this set is extremely large and heavy, and additional postage will apply; please inquire for details.
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