Weston, MA: M & S Press, 1984. Privately Printed, Limited and Numbered Edition. One of fifty-five copies fully bound by Gray Parrot with a special design in royal blue and black Niger goat and housed in a one-quarter leather traycase. This is copy #33 and, as the colophon notes, the printing and binding were completed in the fall of 1984. Folio,10 inches by 14 inches, i-xxvi + 381 pages comprising a facsimile of the original Nineteen Eighty-Four manuscript on each recto and the edited typescript draft on the facing verso. With gilt-stamping to the front board reading” War is Peace / Freedom is Slavery / Ignorance is Strength”. Beautiful as new condition. One of the only George Orwell manuscripts extant, published here in full facsimile, with transcript notes by poet, publisher, and Orwell historian Peter Davison. As Davison notes in his introduction: “This facsimile reproduces all that is known to have survived of the preliminary drafts of Nineteen Eighty-Four, that is about 44% of the published text of the novel.” Furthermore, he writes: “Despite all the rewriting revealed by this facsimile, it is remarkable how closely what has survived adheres to the main sweep of the narrative of Nineteen Eighty-Four. All the principle features, except the Appendix on Newspeak, are present, suggesting that the story had been pretty fully formed in Orwell’s mind by the time he sat down to write it out. What can now be seen for the first time is, in Sonia Orwell’s words, her husband’s ‘actual working methods’. These are a compelling demonstration of the way Orwell fashioned and refashioned his story, perfecting language and thought, in order to create one of the most remarkable novels of the twentieth century.” The preface by bookseller, rare book collector, and ABAA member Daniel Siegel details not only how the manuscript came to be his, but offers insight into the art and craft of literary serendipity and is a delight to read. He tells the story of his relationship with the Orwell manuscript, beginning with how, in late spring of 1969, Harold Graves of Scribner’s rare book department in New York introduced him to the piece, about which Siegel notes, “The leaves Harold showed me were nondescript, handwritten in ink or typed, with a great deal of overwriting on the typed pages. Much seemed illegible.” Siegel was obviously intrigued by the manuscript, but walked away without it. However, as kismet would have it, on the following day he telephoned Graves with the news that,“It’s a great manuscript and I don’t know why I shouldn’t have it.” And so, he did. Eventually, Siegel donated the Nineteen Eighty-Four manuscript to Brown University. (Inventory #: 20790E)
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