8vo (196 x 128mm.), 3 volumes, first edition, half-title in vol. 1, publisher's remainder binding of purple cloth, spines gilt-lettered, covers with blindstamped decoration, yellow-coated endleaves, green buckram slipcase with morocco gilt spine label, matching chemise, two leaves supplied in facsimile: M1 in vol. 1 and F6 in vol. 3, with the original defective leaves laid in, minimal foxing and soiling throughout, rebacked with backstrips laid down, some wear and rubbing, stains on upper portion of front cover of vol. 3 affecting front endpapers
This edition precedes the New York edition by a month and was printed in a edition of 500. The English edition was extensively edited and about thirty-five passages that later appeared in the American edition had been deleted.
Melville's first mention of the composition of Moby-Dick was in a letter to Richard Henry Dana, dated 1 May 1850: "It will be a strange sort of book, tho' I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho' you may get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree; - & to cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy, which from the nature of the thing, must be ungainly as the gambols of the whales themselves. Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this" (Letters 108).
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