“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day”: First Edition of Edith Wharton's Italian Backgrounds
Item Number: 21099
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905.
First edition. Octavo, original green cloth, gilt titles and tooling to the spine and front panel. Illustrated by E.C. Peixotto. Frontispiece and Illustrated throughout. In near fine condition with a touch of rubbing and a contemporary bookplate.
Edith Wharton says. "As with the study of Italian pictures, so it is with Italy herself. The country is divided not in partes tres, but in two; a foreground and a background. The foreground is the property of the guidebook and of its product, the mechanical sightseers; the background, that of the dawdler, the dreamer, and the serious student of Italy." The nine chapters are — An Alpine Posting Inn, A Midsummer Week's Dream. The Sanctuaries of the Pennine Alps, What the Hermits Saw, A Tuscan Shrine, Sub Umbra Lillorum. March in Italy, Picturesque Milan, and Italian Backgrounds: then there are twelve illustrations reproduced from Peixotto pictures. This traveller's story runs a fine thread of scholarship, of savoir faire, of cosmopolitanism, not easily to be matched in travel-literature. The book has distinction of style, as impossible to resist as to define. The book is full of exquisite impressions concerning matters not to be found in the guide books and shows the combination of thorough knowledge based on original research, an ability to enter into and value different aspects of life and different forms of art, and a finished and suggestive style.