DICKENS, Charles. American Notes for General Circulation. London: Chapman and Hall, 1842.
2 volumes, 8o (198 x 126 mm). Half-titles, advertisement leaf at front of vol. 1, 6-page advertisements at end of vol. 2. Original reddish-brown cloth, decorated in blind, gilt-lettered on spine (spine slightly darkened, a few minor stains); brown quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: some penciled marginalia on K2v in vol. 1; Stephen M. Dryfoos (bookplate); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION IN THE PRIMARY BINDING, FIRST ISSUE, with verso of the contents leaf incorrectly numbered "xvi". The contents leaf bears the incorrect pagination in the first issue because of the suppression of Dickens's preface. John Forster and other friends advised Dickens that it might be misunderstood in America, but since it was already printed the original pagination was not immediately altered. Dickens's preface was not printed in his lifetime; it first appeared in Forster's biography of Dickens (1872).
American Notes is largely based on Dickens's letters to John Forster, Maclise, Beard, Mitton and Fontblanque. He sailed from Liverpool on 3 January 1842 and visited numerous cities in the United States and Canada, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, St. Louis, Cleveland, Niagara Falls, Montreal and Quebec, before leaving for England from New York City on June 7. It was an exhausting trip, and Dickens's especially tired of the often virulent reactions to his support of international copyright laws. The practice of spitting in public was of particular digust to him: "The flashes of saliva flew so perpetually and incessantly out of the windows all the way, that it looked as though they were ripping open feather-beds, and letting the wind dispose of the feathers" (quoted in Johnson, Charles Dickens, 1952, p.396). His dissolution is apparent in the criticisms of slavery, the American press, the sanitary conditions of American cities. Eckel, pp.108-09; Smith II:3; Yale/Gimbel A66. (2)