The Tragic Muse
Hard Cover. London: Macmillan and Co., 1890. 1st Edition. Near Fine.
First English edition. Three volumes. One of 500 copies. Publisher's dark blue cloth, lettered in gilt, black coated endpapers. About near fine, with some light wear to the extremities, bright gilt, former owner's inscription to the front pastedowns, scattered spotting, otherwise bright and fresh pages, upper covers have evidence of bookplate removal, spines slightly starting at front hinge of Volume I, otherwise sturdy and intact spines. Overall, bright and attractive, in unsophisticated original cloth. Edel & Laurence A34b. Originally published serially in seventeen installments in the Atlantic Monthly from January 1889-May 1890, The Tragic Muse was Henry James' longest novel to date. The plot tells of two aspiring artists, painter Nick Dormer and actress Miriam Rooth, who endeavor to find both artistic and commercial success. The large cast of characters that encounter Nick and Miriam throughout the text comprise a panoramic view of nineteenth century English society. James originally offered The Tragic Muse to Macmillan, but was dissatisfied with their offers. Accordingly, the first edition of this text was published on June 7, 1890, by Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., and was followed by this first English edition on June 28th of the same year. Notorious for heavily editing his serialized stories before book publication, James naturally made many revisions to The Tragic Muse, and his dual publication lead to slightly different revisions in the American and English editions. Notably, the use of punctuation, specifically commas, varies significantly in the Atlantic Monthly, Houghton, and Macmillan editions, with the heaviest use in the Atlantic Monthly and lightest in Macmillan. As James was known for using commas sparingly, this first English edition most closely mirrors the author's natural writing style.