Adelbert von Chamisso, Friedrich De La Motte Fouque [trans.] - Peter Schlemihl - G. and W.B. Whittaker, 1824, First Edition.


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London, G. and W.B. Whittaker, 1824. First Edition. First Impression. Hardback. A very good copy. First English Edition, preceded by the original German novella ten years earlier. A wonderful work of supernatural fantasy wherein the eponymous Peter is encouraged by the Devil to exchange his shadow for the purse of Fortunatus (basically a credit card with no limit). Things don't quite work out (do they ever in folk tales?) and society rejects him sans shadow. Of particular pain is the rejection from the woman he loves. The Devil ups the ante offering him his shadow back in return for his soul. Peter has had enough though and calls it quits, opting for a life of poverty and isolation. In due course a pair of seven-league boots turn up in a local village market and he heads off exploring from Tibet to the Arctic to the Pillars of Hercules. He gathers botanical specimans en route (von Chamisso was a botanist). Finally, old and a little worse for wear, society accepts him. An important tap-root for the development of the speculative genre. The trope of a lost shadow has been used sparingly in subsequent fantasy (certainly less so than the seven-league boots) though perhaps best remembered in Dunsany's The Charwoman's Shadow and Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. A classic work of early fantasy. [Clute & Grant, p177; Schlemihl, 2011]. There were a number of issues of this edition, the present copy has the illustrator's name spelt incorrectly, a hyphen on the publisher's address, the date 1824 on the title page, no adverts leaf, and a half-title present. Rebound in leather, spine tips and corners bumped and rubbed. Foxed throughout. Cover art by Illustrations by George Cruikshank [7801, Hyraxia Books].

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