Hammersmith: Doves Press, November 1906 & June 1910. First Thus. First Doves Press editions, each volume one of 25 copies on vellum. 2 volumes. Original limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, titles to spines gilt. Printed in black and red in Doves type. A little mottling to covers, some mild darkening to spine, contents superbly fresh and bright. A most pleasing set.
The subject of Faust preoccupied Goethe for most of his life. He began a play on the theme as early as 1773, at first probably concentrated mainly on Faust's disgust with academic learning and on the shallowness of university life. He worked it up into the love tragedy (the so-called Urfaust) in which Faust, with Mephisto's aid, gains the heart of a good and virtuous girl (Gretchen), and forsakes her, driving her to an infanticide for which she is condemned to death. The Urfaust remained unpublished until after its chance discovery in 1887. In the present edition, Part I is taken from the 1887 Weimar edition. Goethe subsequently elaborated Faust: Erster Teil (1808), the Helena Zwischenspeil (1827) and Faust: Zweiter Teil (completed in January 1832, published posthumously later that year), with a combined text appearing in 1834. Part II is taken from the 1899 Weimar edition, revised for the Doves Press by Dr Erich Schmidt.
The Doves Press was run by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson and his wife Anne. Cobden-Sanderson left his career as a lawyer in 1884 in order to open the Doves Bindery, establishing the Doves Press in 1900. He was interested in all aspects of book design, writing in his diary in 1898 that “I must, before I die, create the type for today of 'the Book Beautiful,’ and actualize it - paper, ink, writing, printing, ornament and binding”. Though an admirer of William Morris, he felt that the Gothic Kelmscott designs were excessive. Instead, he worked with the printer Emery Walker to develop a clear, refined, type based on those of 15th-century Italian masters Nicholas Jenson and Jacobus Rubeus.
Franklin 273. Ransom 251. (Item #4086)