A beautiful, hand painted, vellum fine binding (with the ticket of the Florentine binder Alfonso Dori) decorates this classic work by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans. Both volume one and volume two (the complete book) are bound into this binding. In addition, 16 albumen photographs have been pasted in, showing Florence at the turn-of-the-century.
The Italian binder Alfonso Dori's work was highlighted in the 1907 The Art Journal, pages 344 to 347 (available to viww free-of-charge in Google Books), Some Modern Italian Bookbinding the article; he is shown as representative of the skill and technique of the Italian binders of the period.
Mary Anne Evans wrote as Eliot because she believed it would sell more books. Perhaps correct, she was very successful as Eliot.
Romola is a historical novel set in the fifteenth century, and is a deep study of life in the city of Florence from an intellectual, artistic, religious, and social point of view. The story takes place amidst actual historical events during the Italian Renaissance, and includes in its plot several notable figures from Florentine history. Literary scholars have drawn comparisons between the setting of the novel and George Eliot's contemporary Victorian England: "Philosophically confused, morally uncertain, and culturally uprooted, Florence was a prototype of the upheaval of nineteenth-century England". Renaissance Florence was therefore a convenient setting for a historical novel that allowed exotic characters and events to be examined in Victorian fashion. Romola is the female protagonist through whom the surrounding world is evaluated.
The publishers Tauchnitz issued foreign copyright titles to Europe, with the authors appropriately paid. Although the copyright reads 1863, the printing was likely later, although this may be the first (non-pirated) edition of European printing.
It has been speculated that the tipped-in photographs were done especially in Florence, for sale to the tourist market; also explaining why the book is in English, although bound and presumably sold in Italy.
Physical Attributes -
Measures 16 x 11.5 x 5.5 cm. Painted vellum binding. Decorative endpapers of the period. All edges red. At least 16 albumen photographs tipped-in. Pages - (1), 392 pages - Volume One, 375 pages - Volume Two, (1).
Condition of the Book -
See pictures. Some soiling to vellum. Crack at top and bottom of front joint. Fading to spine spaint. Bookseller notes on free front endpaper. Occasional fore-edge chip to pages. Slight cockling to tipped-in photographs. Shelf wear at bottom front edge wearing red away slightly.
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