New York: Harper & Brothers, 1852. Original blind-stamped purple cloth.
First Edition. This was Melville's first novel to be published after MOBY DICK, and one of his few not taking place upon the sea. It is a curious, but tragic, menage-a-trois: Pierre is engaged to marry Lucy, but then happens to meet Isabel, discovers that she is his half-sister, realizes that she needs his help, and so pretends to marry her in order to protect her (while also protecting his father's reputation).
In grappling with the ambiguities of good and evil, Pierre has followed the 'chronometrical' standards of ideal Christian conduct, instead of the 'horological' standards of contemporary society. He is accordingly undone by his ideals, and becomes 'the fool of Truth, the fool of Virtue, the fool of Fate' [OCAL].
PIERRE was published amid the negative reception accorded MOBY DICK; this new novel did little to slow Melville's descent toward (temporary) obscurity.
This copy is bound in purple morocco-grain cloth, one of four styles of cloth listed by Blanck for this title; the endpapers are brown-coated (one of five colors). The volume is in very good condition: there is minor wear at the spine ends, and as always with the color purple, the cloth has largely faded to a light brown. The leaves have some foxing, but less than is often the case. The original endpapers are intact, and bear the original bookseller's label of "Taylor & Maury Booksellers & Stationers, Penn Ave. near 9th St., Washington City"; the front flyleaf bears the 1862 signature of [Major] G.J. Ball of Erie Pa., who also penned his last name at the top of the first page of text. One of Melville's scarcer titles. Blanck 13666. Item #14711