[Melville's first fiction] New York: Harper & Brothers, 1849. 8 pp Vol II undated ads. Original blind-stamped green cloth.
First American Edition of Melville's first novel, an allegorical romance that was preceded only by the nonfictional TYPEE (1846) and OMOO (1847); "Mardi" means "the world" in Polynesian. As Melville indicates in his Preface, "... having published two narratives of voyages in the Pacific, ... the thought occurred to me, of indeed writing a romance of Polynesian adventure...". Much of the tale (the voyage thither) takes place on whaling vessels, anticipating the publication of MOBY DICK two years later. Although MARDI was advertised as "will be immediately issued, being published simultaneously by Messrs. Harper in this city, and Bentley in London," it is generally agreed that Bentley's three-decker came out about three weeks earlier.
This set is in green wavy-grain ("TR") cloth; copies were also issued, without precedence, in brown, blue-green, and purple cloth of this and two other grains. The Vol II ad catalogue is present; no ads are ever called for in Vol I. This set does not have the blind-stamped rule across the extreme head of the spines (no precedence is known). The volumes are in very good condition -- very minor wear at the extremities, a couple of minor creases in one board, one binder's flyleaf excised (possibly by the binder), spines slightly browned as usual, bookplate partially removed from one pastedown, endpapers rather darkened as usual. In spite of this list of drawbacks, this is not at all a bad set of Melville's first venture into fiction. Blanck 13658. Housed in twin morocco-backed slipcases with inner chemises (the cases mistakenly read "London 1849"). Item #15261