London: George Peirce, 1846. First Edition. wrappers. 6 vols. 1st edition in English, 1st issue in parts (all covers numbered by hand). Original wrappers, part VI with chips to the back, else very good, complete, unrepaired, and rare as rooster eggs. Dumas wrote this adventure as a high tension anxiety (ticking clock/jail–break plotline), to be the central novel in his series about the French Revolution, but as he got deeper into the others (Memoirs of a Physician, 1848, Queen’s Necklace, 1850, Ange Pitou, 1851, and Countess of Charny, 1854) the nuances of the series’ overlapping cast (mainly Phillipe de Taverney) no longer fit. So he let the novel stand alone, and it does so with resilient fame. Ex–Bob Jackson, this very set (not that they could have found another) was last seen 19 years ago at the Grolier Club, in their exhibit, Essential Parts (recorded on page 16 of their 1996 catalog). Very good. Item #40
The Red House (La Maison–Rouge) were the ferociously dedicated, and heroically resolute, personal guard of King Louis XVI and his family, so named for their brilliant red cloaks. Dumas resurrects their shadowy leader, The Red Knight himself, as his secret agent in disguise, the tip of a royalist spear, leading Batz’s inspired intrigue (The Carnation Conspiracy) to rescue Marie Antoinette from the prison at the Conciergerie. The result is breathtaking reader whiplash, remindful of the disquiet in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (the exemplar for a choice of heroes, wherein both sides are positive they are in the right), and it presages with a clear prescience the James Bond bravura of action spy, and the Mission Impossible style of whirlpool count–down plotline.