John Lane; Roberts Bros., Boston,
First edition, number seven in Lane's Keynotes series. The Keynotes Series, comprising 33 novels and short story collections, was published in a distinctive format, featuring Aubrey Beardsley's cover designs and embellishments, by John Lane between 1893 and 1897; Beardsley produced the designs for 22 Keynotes volumes while he was working on The Yellow Book, which John Lane was also publishing. The Keynotes series shared a close relationship with the progressive literary trends of 1890s, emphasised by Beardsley's fashionable cover designs.
Prince Zaleski was Shiel's first novel contains three mysteries: "The Race of Orven", "The Stone of the Edmundsbury Monks", and "The S.S.", each solved by an eccentric Russian nobleman who lives out his self-imposed exile within the half-ruined walls of a Welsh abbey. Shiel's bibliographer, A. Reynolds Morse, gives a colourful overview of the book: "In the first two stories, the detective solves the crimes without even leaving his couch, where he lies partially under the influence of drugs and surrounded by oriental bric-a-brac. Stylistically this... is not easy to analyze.... Shiel admits Poe's influence, but far outdistances him in the magic flight of a wholly original style" (Morse, pp 32-34).
Octavo. Original purple cloth, titles to spine gilt, key monogram to spine, title and floral decoration to sides in white, all designed by Aubrey Beardsley, top edge trimmed, others untrimmed. With the publisher's advertisements to the rear.
Title page design by Aubrey Beardsley.
Ownership signature front free endpaper in ink. Spine sunned and slightly cocked with minor wear to head of spine, couple of tips bumped, faint sunning to board edges. A very good copy.
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