Scarce in original
Tess of the D’Urbervilles. A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented.
“Tess is that rare creature in literature: goodness made interesting.
She is human life stretched and racked, yet forever springing back to
renewal… She comes to seem for us the potential of what life could be,
just as what happens to her signifies what life too often becomes. She
is Hardy’s greatest tribute to the possibilities of human existence, for
Tess is one of the greatest triumphs of civilization: a natural girl.”
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE in scarce original cloth of Hardy’s
masterpiece, one of only 1000 copies printed.
“Hardy intended Tess of the d’Urbervilles for serialization by
Tillotson and Son of Bolton, but before the whole manuscript was in
their hands they turned it down on moral grounds, alarmed that they had
contracted for a story involving seduction and illegitimate birth. Two
further rejections followed, from Murray’s Magazine and
Macmillan’s Magazine, and it became obvious that the novel would
have to be modified for the periodical market. Hardy recounts that in
rewriting portions of it to make it suitable for a family paper, the
Graphic, in which it finally appeared in 1891, he ‘carried out this
unceremonious concession to conventionality with cynical amusement’. The
seduction scene was omitted, all references to Tess’s child expunged,
and at the editor’s request, Angel Clare was made to wheel the milkmaids
through a flood in a wheelbarrow to avoid close physical contact.
Tess appeared in weekly installments in the Graphic from 4
July to 26 December 1891”; the first book edition, with the “offensive”
passages restored, appeared in November 1891. (David Skilton, “Note on
the text”, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Penguin, 1978.)
“The occasional negative reviews of Tess,
though hurtful to Hardy himself, were overwhelmed by the popular
response to the novel's deeply imagined portrayal of a heroine moving
through hopes and betrayals, surmounted difficulties and deceptive
idylls, to a tragic conclusion whose ‘justice’ the author's passionate
advocacy profoundly challenges. Tess
is also the most eloquently written of the novels, and the one in which
the natural world and the topography itself—the landscapes Tess so
doggedly traverses—are most continuously and richly represented.” (DNB).
from the library of noted publisher and book collector Crosby Gaige,
with his bookplates on front pastedowns of each volume.
James R. Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., 1891. Octavo, original
gilt-decorated tan cloth; custom half-leather box. Three volumes. Text
clean. Mild toning to spines (as usual), rectangular patch of abrasion
at top front panel of each volume, volume three slightly cocked. Scarce
in original cloth with all three volumes first issue. $14,000.