Moby Dick First Trade Edition Illustrated by Rockwell Kent


Moby Dick or the Whale by Herman Melville 1930 –
First Printing of the Rockwell-Kent Illustrated Trade Edition


A work that many consider Kent’s masterpiece. A fine balance of philosophy and comedy like DON QUIXOTE but with epic Miltonic undertones, MOBY DICK was not only Melville’s most ambitious work to date but became one of his biggest flops. By his death in 1891, the book was out of print and would have to wait until the 1920s for a critical resurrection, one solidified in no small part by this edition, beautifully illustrated by Rockwell Kent.

Kent was approached in 1926 by R.R. Donnelly to illustrate a classic of American literature for his Lakeside Press, Kent (very much in need of money) gladly accepted the commission, but eschewed more obvious choices in favor of the still relatively unpopular Moby Dick. It proved to be an astute choice. Kent’s art deco-influenced images perfectly captured Melville’s tone and the Lakeside edition promptly sold out.

Random House then quickly brought out this trade edition which also proved enormously popular and helped cement both the book’s reputation and popularity. An uncommonly nice example of arguably the best-known edition of this American classic.

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  • Store Name: Ageless Literature
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  • Address: FL
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