Hard Cover. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1849. First Edition. Near Fine.
Two volumes. First American edition. Original publisher's blue-green blind-stamped cloth with gilt lettering to spines. A very good or better set with some light wear, some toning to spine, scattered spotting and small stains to cloth, former owner ink signature to first blank of volume II, usual scattered foxing to text. Overall, a very attractive and tight copy without any repair or restoration. Much nicer than usually found. BAL 13658. Mardi is Herman Meville's third book and marks a departure from his first two works, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), which are more autobiographical in nature. Mardi begins like Melville's preceding novels with a fictional South Seas whaling adventure story, but quickly changes into a more allegorical and experimental text when the main characters abandon their vessel and travel to a variety of fictional, symbolic countries. Melville's use of poetry and song also makes this text unique. While it was heavily criticized upon publication, Mardi is best understood within the greater context of his entire body of writing. Rather than continue to produce variations of his first two successful novels, Melville pushed himself to improve on his own writing, and, while perhaps not fully recognized in Mardi, this laid the groundwork for his later novels, including White-Jacket (1850) and Moby Dick (1851). This first American edition, published April 14, 1849, was preceded only by the three volume first British edition, published on March 16th of the same year.