New York: Baker and Scribner, 1849. 103,pp. Original paper boards. Head of spine chipped. Binding substantially dampstained and soiled. Leaves foxed and dampstained. A reading copy. About good. Item #WRCAM21981
The first edition of what is generally regarded as the first American novel relating to the California gold rush. It is, however, of ever greater interest for its utilization of the lost race motif, for soon after making his fortune in the known gold fields, the protagonist treks east, attempting to reach Santa Fe, but instead comes upon the valley of Aurifodina. Therein live a highly civilized people and gold is as common as mud, and steel is the great rarity. The major portion of the narrative is occupied with contrasting the superior ways of the enlightened Aurifodinians with those of the outside world. The protagonist marries and lives a contented life until one day, while he is ascending in an observation balloon, an anchor line breaks and he is carried east until he is finally downed near the Big Licks of Kentucky. As much as he wishes to return to Aurifodina, the prospect of an overland trek is too great for him, and he consoles himself with putting down his narrative for the enlightenment of others. The degree to which we are supposed to take all this seriously is probably indicated by the author's choice of pseudonym, which is a transliteration of "Can tell a big lie." WRIGHT I:2030. COWAN, p.477. PENN STATE UTOPIA CATALOGUE, p.144. BAIRD & GREENWOOD 1995. KURUTZ 490a.