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A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel.

London, Thames and Hudson, 1980 Stock Code: 141491

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First edition in book form, first impression, of this celebrated altered book, with a fascinating and amusingly haphazard provenance: inscribed wryly by Tom Phillips, "for Philip, now with smaller writing, with warm best wishes from Tom Phillips", having been previously inscribed as a wedding present on behalf of his family by the writer and flamboyant jazz entertainer George Melly, "for Sally & Ian, with love from Diana, George, Tom & Candy, Oct 11 / 80" but adding the coda: "Explanation: Set out for Sally & Ian's wedding with this book as a present. The car broke down or at least wouldn't start never made the wedding. Never sent the book Happy to have retained it actually! Jan / 6 / 83. G. M."; at this time Melly added "Not" at the head of his original inscription.

A Humument is an altered version of the novel A Human Document (1892) by the conservative thinker William Hurrell Mallock. As Phillips explains in the jacket blurb, "I took a forgotten Victorian novel found by chance. I plundered, mined, and undermined its text to make it yield the ghosts of other possible stories, scenes, poems, erotic incidents and surrealist catastrophes". It is also very funny. Phillips began work on it in the late 1960s, and states in his preface that publication "was started in 1970 by the Tetrad Press with a box of ten silkscreened pages which made up Volume 1". He concludes by saying that, "in a sense A Humument is less than what it started with, it is a paradoxical embodiment of Mallarmé's idea that everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book".

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Square octavo. Original purple cloth, gilt-lettered spine. With the dust jacket.


Illustrated throughout in colour.


Jacket spine just a little toned, binding a shade shaken, hint of dustiness to top edge. An excellent copy.


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