Hard Cover. London: The Nonesuch Press, 1926. First Thus. Very Good / Dust Jacket Included.
Illustrated by E. McKnight Kauffer. First edition thus, limited edition, one of 1650 copies, of which this is number 1566. Folio. Publisher's red cloth with title in gilt to spine, Knopf president William A. Koshland's bookplate to front pastedown; original dust jacket stamped in blue. Very good book with tiny chip to head of spine, hint of toning to extremities, light spotting to top of rear board, and a small spot of dampstaining to top left corner of bookplate; fair unclipped dust jacket with some toning to spine, a handful of small chips to edges, front panel separated at hinge, rear jacket flap separated, front jacket flap cracked and with light dampstaining, some tears and chips to spine partially obscuring "Melville" on lower spine. Overall, an excellent copy with bright illustrations, in its scarce original dust jacket. In Benito Cereno, Captain Amaso Delano, heading an American ship, senses that another ship on the sea might be in distress and climbs aboard it. While on the ship, it is at last dramatically revealed that a slave revolt had taken place on the boat, and that the ship's captain, Benito Cereno, and his men are being held captive. The story, told from the perspective of Delano, is a famous example of unreliable narration, and "the story's final effect is to force readers to retrace their own racism to discover how, as a condition of mind, it distorts our vision." In modern times, the story has been hailed as one of Melville's greatest accomplishments. It was originally published in Putnam's Monthly, as were other now-classic short works by Melville, like "Bartleby the Scrivener'' and "The Encantadas." This Nonesuch Press edition is the first separate edition of one of Melville's short prose works. This copy was previously owned by William A. Koshland, the former president and chairman of Alfred A. Knopf publishing house. One of Koshland's biggest successes at Knopf was taking a chance on Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) and publishing it after a number of other publishing houses had passed on the book. Item #HM045