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Lot #352
Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's nocturnal musings from 'Night and Moonlight'

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Estimate: $7000+
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Thoreau's nocturnal musings from 'Night and Moonlight'

Sought-after handwritten manuscript contained within the first volume of the 1906 'manuscript edition' of Thoreau's works, one page, 7.5 x 9.25, containing a segment of his essay ‘Night and Moonlight,’ which was originally published in the The Atlantic Monthly in November 1863, pp. 579-83. Portions of the manuscript bear pencil notations, which will be identified in brackets. In full: "fire? So man has fire in his eyes, or blood, or brain. Instead of singing birds [the half-throttled note of a cuckoo flying over], the croaking of frogs, and the intenser dream of crickets [but above all, the wonderful trump of the bull-frog, ringing from Maine to Georgia]. The potato vines stand upright, the corn grows apace, and in moonlight nights the bushes loom, the grain fields are boundless, and the shadows of rocks and trees and shrubs and hills are more conspicuous than the objects themselves. The slightest irregularities in the ground are revealed by the shadows, and what the feet find comparatively smooth appears rough and diversified in consequence. [For the same reason the whole landscape is more variegated and picturesque than by day] The smallest recesses in the rocks are dim and cavernous; the ferns in the wood appear of tropical size. The pools seen though the trees are as full of light as the sky. ‘The light of the day…” The sheet is professionally inlaid into a larger sheet, which was subsequently bound into the first volume of the twenty-volume set The Writings of Henry David Thoreau. Manuscript edition, limited issue, numbered 478/600. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1906. Hardcover, 6.25 x 9, 427 pages. The other volumes of the set are not included. Autographic condition: fine. Book condition: VG/None, with rubbing to spine and edges, and newspaper clippings affixed to endpapers.

Fifty years after Thoreau's death in 1862, his manuscripts passed through a few hands until they were inherited by E. Harlow Russell. He then negotiated with publisher Houghton Mifflin to sell the literary rights of Thoreau's unpublished journals, also selling at least six-hundred pages of his original manuscripts to the firm. These were then broken up and included, one page at a time, in the first book of each copy of this enormous twenty-volume limited 'manuscript edition' set.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Hollywood
  • Dates: #606 - Ended April 14, 2021

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