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The Innocents Abroad
By Mark Twain (1869)
First Edition, 1870 Printing
DESCRIPTION: In 1867 Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. "Mark Twain") was not the revered master of American satire and humor he would be known as by the end of his life; he was instead a 32-year-old failed miner and mediocre journalist living in San Francisco, whose only literary successes of his entire life thus far had been a series of schmaltzy short stories from his small-town youth printed in some family magazines. What Twain already had, though, was his smart, bitter sense of humor; so when he convinced a local newspaper to pay for him to go on a "Grand Tour" cruise to Europe and the Holy Land (an extremely common activity among the Gilded Age upper class, in order to be considered "cultured" within their high society), then started sending back hilariously dark reports on how horrible everything was, they became a massive hit with the general public, eventually syndicated by the paper nationally and with Twain gaining millions of fans by the time he got back to the States. That led to the 1869 compilation of these blog-style articles, The Innocents Abroad: or, The New Pilgrim's Progress, a massive 651-page collection complete with 234 illustrations (as well as five delightful pages of old-timey ads in the back), along with an elaborately designed gold-foil cover; and this became the first hit of his career, and what would turn out to be the biggest ever among his contemporary readers, an explosive kick to his reputation that only grew and grew until his death 41 years later. One of the most important American books of the middle Victorian Age, and a thick good-looking volume that would look great in a university museum or historical society lobby display, this is currently the biggest jewel in CCLaP's entire collection, priced here deliberately on the low end of its value scale in the hopes of attracting an actual buyer.
CONDITION: Text: Very Good Minus (VG-). In general this copy is in great shape for a book this old, with clean non-foxed pages, a tight binding, unblemished covers and fully intact endpapers; but it does have a small puncture near the top of the spine, as well as spine edges and board tips that are frayed. On the first sheet of the manuscript has been written in pencil, "Jonas S. Houghton, Hudson Mass." Issued without a dust jacket. Differing dates on the title and copyright pages indicates that this is not a first printing*, although the references detailed in the Bibliography of American Literature (BAL3316), as well as the lack of further edition notices as confirmed by the McBride Guide to the Identification of First Editions, at least prove that this is a first edition.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the 2012 Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago.
*New to book collecting? An "edition" indicates whenever a major change is made to a book, like designing a new cover; a "printing" indicates literally one more run of books at the factory, before the plates are put away again and a new book loaded into the equipment. Most modern publishers indicate the specific printing of a book on the copyright page (look for the string of numbers at the bottom -- the lowest number still showing is that printing's number), but most Victorian publishers didn't; so the most accurate thing we can say about this particular copy of The Innocents Abroad is that it was printed somewhere between a few months and a year after the book's 1869 debut. The BAL is an exhaustive list of tiny mistakes found in the first editions of thousands of old books; these mistakes were all fixed during the second edition, so if your copy contains the mistakes, that's proof that it's from the very first edition.