BLEAK HOUSE. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 329 & 331 Pearl Street, Franklin Square, 1853. 12mo, two volumes: pp. [iii-iv] [vii] viii-x [xi] xii-xiv [xv] [xvi]  2-480; [i-iv]  482-936 [note: collates as per the Gimble copy, no dedication leaf in volume one; has the blank leaf preceding the title leaf in volume two], 38 inserted plates, 37 with illustrations by Hablot K. Browne and engraved portrait of Dickens from a painting by D. Maclise, nineteenth-century three-quarter black leather and marbled boards. First U.S. book edition, preceded by Harper's issue in parts. "Dickens was a significant figure in the development of the mystery novel ... In BLEAK HOUSE (1853), Dickens introduced the intrepid Inspector Bucket, a sort of nineteenth-century Columbo, who was the first fiction English police detective." - Pronzini and Muller, 1001 Midnights, p. 207. "The ponderousness of the Court of Chancery works to evil and terrifying ends, as numerous persons involved are ruined, go mad, and die because of its effects. The physical horrors of London slums are concrete phenomena that enhance the psychic and social horrors so pointedly unfolded in the story." - Tymn, ed., Horror Literature 2-30. The court serves here as the oppressive house (castle, monastery, etc.) of Gothic romance -- labyrinth and Minotaur in one -- that confines and confuses, then devours its victims. Dickens' innovation is to render the Gothic mood via a contemporary setting and mundane subject matter (what could be more mundane than the law?). The daunting, positively Russian, size of his cast of characters moves away from the claustrophobically small cast found in earlier Gothics, and this also echoes the labyrinthine complexity of the law. As England dominated the world in the nineteenth century, London dominated England, and Dickens, more than any other British author, showed the literary potential for the fantastic in such an ostensibly mundane setting (as Sue did for Paris and Lippard for Philadelphia), revealing the city as the new fairy-tale forest of mystery and danger. A Haycraft-Queen cornerstone. Clute and Grant, eds., The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997), p. 269. Podeschi A133. Contemporary ownership stamp of George L. Trendwell at the bottom edge of each title page and his signature in pencil at the top edge of the front free endpaper of each volume. Mild rubbing to binding extremities, frontispiece tissue guard foxed, a remarkably clean, very good copy. A nice copy of a scarce edition. (#148187).
No statement of printing.