Pierre; or, the Ambiguities
New York: Grove Press, 1957. Limited Edition. Octavo, publisher’s brown cloth over speckled paper-covered boards, spine and upper board gilt, upper board stamped in teal and pink.
Limited edition of Herman Melville’s gothic novel, issued by Grove Press. Originally published in 1852, one year after Moby-Dick received a lackluster reception, the book was Melville’s attempt to regain his early readership and produce a "spiritual autobiography in the form of a novel." Engaging with provocative themes such as incest and moral relativism, the story concerns 19-year-old Pierre, a burgeoning writer and scion to a wealthy New York family, as he navigates Oedipal psycho-sexual tensions while working on his masterwork. The book fared poorly, and some scholars believe it contributed to his subsequent mental breakdown. One of many endeavors that put Barney Rosset's Grove Press among the publishing vanguard of the 1950s and 60s were his Meville reissues. He kept Confidence Man in print while also reissuing it in his Evergreen Series, released multiple works of Melville criticism, and published new editions of White Jacket and Pierre. Number 61 of 100 copies, published simultaneously in trade and paperback editions. No dust jacket, as issued. Light rubbing to corners and toning to board edges. Near fine. Item #5351