Poetical Works of George Meredith, The
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928. Item #04467
George Meredith's Poetical Works
In an Amazing 'Jansenist Style' Binding by Root & Son
ROOT & SON, binders. MEREDITH, George. The Poetical Works of George Meredith. With some notes by G.M. Trevelyan. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928.
Octavo. (7 3/4 x 5 1/4 inches; 197 x 133 mm.). xvi, 623, [1, blank] pp. Inserted frontispiece portrait. Affixed to a front blank are two newspaper clippings dated 1929 and 1931. The verso of the portrait also has two newspaper clippings affixed and is inscribed in blue ink by the literary scholar Carl Emery Malugin (the blue ink has 'bled' through and shows on the portrait. Many leaves have his marginal notes in pencil (p. 133 has a small marginal note in black ink). The binder has added ten blank leaves which have various relevant newspaper clippings affixed.
Beautifully bound ca. 1931 by Root & Son in the Jansenist style (stamp-signed in gilt on front doublure). Full red crushed levant morocco. Covers with double gilt borders and heart-tooled corner-pieces. Each cover with six inlaid blue morocco dots surrounded by a gilt circle. Spine with five raised bands, elaborately tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments to a floral design and with five gilt circles containing inlaid light blue morocco dots. Double-ruled gilt board edges AND the most wonderful, elaborate and intricate full red and inlaid dark green morocco doublures (front and back) decorated in gilt in a floral and mosaic design with a large central lozenge incredibly decorated in gilt and with sixteen inlaid red morocco dots surrounded by twelve inlaid pale blue morocco dots. Blue watered silk end-leaves, all edges gilt. Original green cloth front cover and spine bound in at end. An absolutely stunning and fine example of the art of Root & Son, housed in the original fleece-lined red cloth slipcase.
The 'Jansenist Style' was popular in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, characterized by a plain exterior and elaborately tooled doublures.
The London bindery of W. Root & Son consistently turned-out excellent work, both on fine bindings as here, and on trade bindings and sets. Packer lists the firm in business in Red Lion Square in 1899-1901, and the December 1942 issue of The Rotarian notes with regret that W. Root had been bombed out (uprooted?) of their premises on Paternaster Row during the 1941 Blitz. There is a record in the June 10 1905 issue of The Academy "Esteemed Editions of various Authors, some scarce, all in new extra leather bindings… W. Root & Son, 29-30 Eagle Street, Red Lion Street, Holborn, W.C." Root & Son are also recorded at the same address in The Literary Year-Book, 1909 (thirteenth annual volume). The British Library have five examples of bindings by Root & Son.
George Meredith (1828-1909) was an English novelist and poet of the Victorian era who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature seven times. He poetry was particularly influenced by John Keats and Alfred Lord Tennyson. His writing was characterized by a fascination with imagery and indirect references. He had a keen understanding of comedy and his Essay on Comedy (1877) is still quoted in most discussions of the history of comic theory. In The Egoist, published in 1879, he applies some of his theories of comedy in one of his most enduring novels. Some of his writings, including The Egoist, also highlight the subjection of women during the Victorian period. During most of his career, he had difficulty achieving popular success. His first truly successful novel was Diana of the Crossways published in 1885. His first big novel, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, was judged so shocking that Mudie's circulating library canceled an order of 300 copies. Meredith was richly honored: he succeeded Lord Tennyson as president of the Society of Authors, and in 1905 he was appointed to the Order of Merit by King Edward VII.
"Under yonder beech-tree single on the green-sward,
Couched with her arms behind her golden head,
Knees and tresses folded to slip and ripple idly,
Lies my young love sleeping in the shade." (Love in the Valley by George Meredith)
George Macaulay Trevelyan, OM CBE FRS FBA, (1876-1952) was a British historian and academic. He was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1898 to 1903. He then spent more than twenty years as a full-time author. In 1906 he published The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith - a personal acquaintance of the author.
Carl Emery Malugin (1891-1952) was born in Montana and around 1920 relocated to San Francisco. He was a scholar of literature and commissioned several very fine and elaborate inlaid bindings from the London bookbinder W. Root & Son. He studiously read his books and often annotated them in pencil. He also had Root & Son bind in several extra leaves on which he had affixed relevant clippings.