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Peter Schlemihl

Peter Schlemihl

Adelbert von Chamisso, Friedrich De La Motte Fouque [trans.] London, G. and W.B. Whittaker, 1824. First Edition. First Impression. Hardback. A very good copy. First English Edition, preceded by the original German novella ten years earlier. A wonderful work of supernatural fantasy wherein the eponymous Peter is encouraged by the Devil to exchange his shadow for the purse of Fortunatus (basically a credit card with no limit). Things don't quite work out (do they ever in folk tales?) and society rejects him sans shadow. Of particular pain is the rejection from the woman he loves. The Devil ups the ante offering him his shadow back in return for his soul. Peter has had enough though and calls it quits, opting for a life of poverty and isolation. In due course a pair of seven-league boots turn up in a local village market and he heads off exploring from Tibet to the Arctic to the Pillars of Hercules. He gathers botanical specimans en route (von Chamisso was a botanist). Finally, old and a little worse for wear, society accepts him. An important tap-root for the development of the speculative genre. The trope of a lost shadow has been used sparingly in subsequent fantasy (certainly less so than the seven-league boots) though perhaps best remembered in Dunsany's The Charwoman's Shadow and Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. A classic work of early fantasy. [Clute & Grant, p177; Schlemihl, 2011]. There were a number of issues of this edition, the present copy has the illustrator's name spelt incorrectly, a hyphen on the publisher's address, the date 1824 on the title page, no adverts leaf, and a half-title present. Rebound in leather, spine tips and corners bumped and rubbed. Foxed throughout. Cover art by Illustrations by George Cruikshank [7801, Hyraxia Books].
The Aerodrome: A Love Story

The Aerodrome: A Love Story

Rex Warner London, Bodley Head, 1941. First Edition. First Impression. Hardback. A near fine book in a very good jacket. An uncommon book in jacket, moreso signed. Included in Anthony Burgess's list of Ninety-Nine Novels. In the introduction Burgess recounts how he read a copy returning from the war, and was struck by it's being Kafkaesque yet incorporating the three-dimensional characters more associated with English literature. He also notes that its claim to 'be regarded as a modern classic is as sound as that of Orwell's novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four]', though less obvious given its subtlety. Less obvious too than his earlier Wild Goose Chase. A quintessentially English dystopia (perhaps it wouldn't be amiss to call it a cosy dystopia, akin to the cosy catastrophes of the subsequent decade). The dystopia in question being the aerodrome itself and the local environs. A smaller scale affair, than Orwell's and most that come thereafter. An important book, undervalued in the current day, but welcome to sit on a shelf alongside Orwell, Kafka, Zamyatin and Huxley in the great early dystopias. [Clute & Nicholls, p1299 & Burgess, p132]. The jacket has a 60mm jagged tear to the upper jacket, and a 25mm tear to the other side. Spine tips rubbed and a little chipped. A little soiled. Spine tips bumped, edges a little dusty. Owner's inscription to front pastedown (The Foster family of Egton Manor, North Yorkshire). Cover art by Donovan Lloyd [7799, Hyraxia Books].
Artabanzanus: The Demon of the Great Lake - An Allegorical Romance of Tasmania arranged from the Diary of the Late Oliver Ubertus

Artabanzanus: The Demon of the Great Lake – An Allegorical Romance of Tasmania arranged from the Diary of the Late Oliver Ubertus

William M. Ferrar London, Elliot Stock, 1896. First Edition. First Impression. Hardback. A very good copy. An important work of early Australian literature. Science fantasy of the Pilgrim's Progress kind [Locke, Spectrum 1:83]. In Bleiler [p72] as Misc, Utopia, Allegory. In Teitler [p35] as Lost Race (though he also comments that it's hard to define). Suvin, in his excellent essay 'On What is and What Is Not an SF Narration' picks this book, along with 99 contemporaries, as categorically not SF (presumably given the dream-like nature, fantastic elements and allegorical / religious basis). However one might define it, it's a rare work of Australian literature and certainly within the speculative canon (though re-reading the Suvin essay has given me doubts about how allegory fits into the speculative canon). Ferrar was born in Dublin in 1823, settled in Australia in 1842, briefly in Sydney and then in Tasmania. According to letters from Ferrar to the publisher, Elliot Stock, the book took a good four years from completion to publication and hints to around 500-600 copies being published with around half heading out to Australia (these are the author's suggestions - it's not clear how many were eventually published). Corners and spine tips bumped and worn. Owner's inscription to endpaper, vertical crease to same. Two flowers drawn(?) in ink to same endpaper. Binding a little loose, endpapers split but still quite tight to not too obvious. Inscription the rear endpaper, which is also a touch grubby. Rare. Overall a respectable copy. Four copies on COPAC, none on the market or at auction. [Reginald, Melville and Burgess, p185]. [7806, Hyraxia Books].