London: Macmillan and Co., 1889. Item #04384
A Superb Set of Sylvie and Bruno and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded
Including 'The Mad Gardener's Song'
CARROLL, Lewis. FURNISS, Harry, illustrator. Sylvie and Bruno [and] Sylvie and Bruno Concluded. [each] With forty-six illustrations by Harry Furniss. London: Macmillan and Co., 1889 [and] 1893.
Two octavo volumes (7 x 4 3/4 inches; 179 x 121 mm.). xxiii, [1, blank], 400; xxxi, [1, blank], 423, [1, blank] pp. With forty-six (ten full-page) illustrations by Harry Furniss in each volume. Each frontispiece with original tissue-guard. Verso of each title-page with small blue library accession number and a few leaves in each volume with the almost imperceptible blind stamp of the College of the Holy Names, Oakland, California.
Bound ca. 1920 by Bayntun of Bath (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-ins). Full maroon morocco, covers ruled in gilt surrounding an elaborate gilt central panel, spines with five raised bands, decoratively panelled and lettered in gilt in compartments, decorative gilt board-edges and turn-ins. red marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Slight staining from original cloth covers on facing last page of Sylvie and Bruno and last blank of Sylvie and Bruno Concluded. With the rectangular bookplate of College of the Holy Names, Oakland, California on both front paste-downs. A fine pair.
Sylvie and Bruno, first published in 1889, and its second volume Sylvie and Bruno Concluded published in 1893, form the last novel by Lewis Carroll published during his lifetime. Both volumes were illustrated by Harry Furniss.
The novel has two main plots: one set in the real world at the time the book was published (the Victorian era), the other in the fantasy world of Fairyland. While the latter plot is a fairy tale with many nonsense elements and poems, similar to Carroll's Alice books, the story set in Victorian Britain is a social novel, with its characters discussing various concepts and aspects of religion, society, philosophy and morality.
Two short pieces, "Fairy Sylvie" and "Bruno's Revenge", originally appeared in Aunt Judy's Magazine in 1867. Some years later, in 1873 or 1874, Carroll had the idea to use these as the core for a longer story. Much of the rest of the novel he compiled from notes of ideas and dialogue which he had collected over the years (and which he called "litterature" in the introduction to the first volume). Carroll initially intended for the novel to be published in one volume. However, due to its length, it was divided into two volumes, published in 1889 and 1893. The novel is not nearly as well known as the Alice books. It was very poorly received and did not have many reprintings; modern commentators note that it lacks much of Carroll's characteristic humour. The poem The Mad Gardener's Song, widely reprinted elsewhere, is the best-known part of the book.
"He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
"You'd best be getting home," he said:
"The nights are very damp!"
The introductory poem in Sylvie and Bruno contains a double acrostic on the name "Isa Bowman", one of Carroll's child friends.
Williams, Madan & Green. The Lewis Carroll Handbook. Numbers 217 & 250.