Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1958. Folio (13 inches tall), original blind-stamped cream boards, uncut, original dust jacket. Bookplate. Small spot to top edge, trace of soiling and toning, very shallow vertical crease, tiny nicks top edge of back panel of bright, unclipped dust jacket. A nearly-fine copy. Item #937
"THE EARLIEST VOICE IN ENGLISH POETRY THAT STILL SOUNDS A CLEAR AND UNIVERSAL NOTE"
Fine mid-century edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer—a beautiful printing of the great Kelmscott Chaucer (1896).
This edition, scarce complete in original dust jacket, is preceded with a valuable Introduction by John T. Winterich: "Geoffrey Chaucer's is the earliest voice in English poetry that still sounds a clear and universal note." Winterich links Geoffrey Chaucer and William Morris across the span of English history: "Today, endowed with the infallibility of hindsight, we can see how inevitable it was that these two great Englishmen, Geoffrey Chaucer and William Morris, living half a millenium apart, must one day meet on common ground, and that the later of them would build a great and durable monument to the earlier." Winterich describes the great influence of William Morris and his press ("the most important private press in the history of printing") and the virtues of this edition: "The Kelmscott Chaucer has been described as a book for the lectern rather than the lap. The present edition, in which the the page size has been slightly reduced, may legitimately be described as the first Kelmscott Chaucer ever published that is designed for reading." Issued by the World Publishing Company several years after their greatest triumph—the Bruce Rogers World Bible (1949), this facsimile edition of the Kelmscott Chaucer reproduces the interior type, illustrations, and binding with meticulous detail. Published with reproductions of all 87 illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones (Morris's friend and frequent collaborator, who famously compared the design of the book to a "pocket cathedral"). The Kelmscott Chaucer was bound in pigskin with no accompanying dust wrapper. An inset on the rear flap of the dust jacket issued with this edition notes: "The stamping on the front cover of this book is a replica of the original famous pigskin binding of the Kelmscott edition, which was designed by William Morris, executed at the Doves Bindery, and limited to 48 copies." The text is preceded by a helpful Glossary for the Modern Reader (based on Skeat's annotations).