“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you": First Edition and Signed Limited Edition of The Complete Poems and Prose of Walt Whitman 1855 - 1888; one of 600 copies produced and signed by Walt Whitman
Complete Poems and Prose of Walt Whitman 1855 – 1888. Authenticated & Personal Book (Handled by W.W.)…Portraits from Life…Autograph.
Item Number: 101368
Philadelphia: Ferguson Bros & Co., 1888.
First edition and signed limited edition of Whitman’s self-described “big book essentially the book, irrespective of expensive binding: it has portraits, notes, title page-all the guarantees of my personality: it is as clearly the book as anything could make it.” Octavo, original brown buckram cloth with gilt titles to the spine, top edge gilt, with four engraved portraits of the author, including the engraved title page. Signed by Walt Whitman on the limitation page under the quote from Leaves of Grass and with the publisher’s limitation note in red ink on the copyright page, “Edition: Six Hundred. Number One Hundred Ninety-Nine.” In near fine condition with a touch of rubbing to the extremities. Scarce and desirable.
Whitman's second attempt at collecting his poetical and prose works (after the 1876 Centennial Edition with 'Leaves of Grass and Two Rivulets'), the present volume was published only four years before the poet's death. Whitman, himself, described it as his "...big book essentially the book, irrespective of expensive binding: it has portraits, notes, title page-all the guarantees of my personality: it is as clearly the book as anything could make it." It contains 'Leaves of Grass, Specimen Days and Collect, and November Boughs'. A single 'Note at End' leaf provides Whitman's printed envoi to the reader, dated Nov 13th 1888, with the conclusion, "I have put my name with pen-and-ink with my own hand in the present volume. And from engraved or photo'd portraits taken from life, I have selected some, of different stages, which please me best, (or at any rate displease me least,) and bequeath them at a venture to you, reader, with my love..” For Whitman, this edition, put together as his conclusive testament four years before his death, was a thoroughly personal project, with the signature and illustrations providing “…all the guarantees of my personality [going] straight from my hands into the hands of the reader; from my heart to your heart” (Traubel, 1889).