Item #449 Master Humphrey’s Clock. Charles Dickens.
Master Humphrey’s Clock
Master Humphrey’s Clock
Master Humphrey’s Clock

Master Humphrey’s Clock

London: Chapman and Hall, 1840-1841. First Edition. Hardcover. 3 vols. 1st editions of 2 separate novels published together (The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge). Original cloth, 1st binding (?) with clocks on the covers indicating the volume numbers, yellow endpapers (H & C say they are the 1st state but I’m unconvinced), some tiny specks and slight wear, a small worn spot to the blank margin of page 181 in vol. II, else near fine. Ref: Smith 6. Near fine. Item #449

The conctrivance is that Master Humphrey is reading the 2 novels aloud, and the first part of vol. I dallies with that. Once Dickens gives up this framing device, it is typical of his early work (before 1850), lacking the pure sense of design that began with David Copperfield. But Master Humphrey’s Clock is filled with Dickens’ emotion, power, style, and most typically, all the bustling life he describes with his wonderful rhetorical effects. The Old Curiosity Shop is Gothic– like, contrasting themes of family and maliciousness, and featuring one of his most famous characters, Little Nell, “a small and delicate child of angelic purity of character and sweetness of disposition,” who ultimately dies, famously wrenching readers around the English–speaking world. The often–disregarded Barnaby Rudge, is so because it was entirely different from everything else Dickens was writing in 1840. It was his first try at historical romance (A Tale of Two Cities, 1859, was his second and last). The plot is set mostly in London and eventually surrounds the 1780 Gordon Riots, but it’s also a mystery that opens with an unsolved murder. And there are, of course, some remarkable fictional players. Among them (to name just a few) are Edward Chester and Emma Haredale, caught in a Romeo and Juliette episode, Gabriel Varden, a locksmith, his scheming wife Martha, their beautiful daughter Dolly and their maid Miggs, Ned Stagg, a wily blind man, Old John, keeper of The Maypole Inn and his son Joe, and the Rudges, the loving Mary, the mysterious, lurking stranger who (in the end) turns out to be her husband, and the murderer, and the title character, their son Barnaby, a simpleton who keeps a loquacious pet raven named Grip, upon whom Edgar Poe patterned his Raven 5 years later. Beyond the fictional characters, and keeping the historical in historical romance, Lord Byron makes an appearance, as do the inept Lord Mayor, and Edward (Ned) Dennis, the hangman of Tyburn, with his chilling desire to “work people off.”.

Price: $750.00

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