[his first and scarcest novel] Reprinted, with corrections and additions, from Fraser's Magazine. London: John W. Parker, 1851. 8 pp undated ads. Original blind-stamped rose-brown wavy-grain cloth.
First Edition of Charles Kingsley's first-written (and today his scarcest) novel. It first appeared serially in Fraser's Magazine during the latter half of 1848 (the year of the "last great burst" of Chartism), but was not published in book form until 1851, as here -- "with corrections and additions"; in the meantime his second novel, ALTON LOCKE, was published slightly earlier, in 1850.
YEAST... is more of a tract than a novel, in which Kingsley described rural England in the time of the Chartist agitation. The plot describes the fate of Lancelot Smith, a wealthy young man, who changes his religious and social views under the inflence of Tregarva, a philosophical game-keeper, who acquaints Smith with the social, economic and moral conditions of the rural poor... Although poorly plotted, YEAST contains a strong social commentary... The novel ends with a utopian and religious stance because Kingsley could not provide a feasible solution to the Condition-of-England Question. A mysterious businessman Barnakill takes Lancelot to the country of mythical Prester John, where he finds answers to his social and religious doubts. [Diniejko].
YEAST is considered to be the first English novel to deal with the problem of unsanitary conditions and disease in the English countryside, as opposed to in the cities (which, for example, HARD TIMES would take up a few years later).
This is a very good copy (volume slightly askew, some wear at the binding extremities, cracking of original endpapers). Although Kingsley later became famous with the likes of WESTWARD HO! and WATER-BABIES, this earliest novel is very scarce in its fragile original cloth.
Sadleir (XIX) 1341 and p. 379 where he ranks YEAST as Kingsley's scarcest; Wolff 3814 ("not a nice copy"); NCBEL 936. Provenance: penciled signature of Walter E. Smith, bibliographer of Victorian literature. Item #14049