Zürich: Orell, Füssli und Compagnie; Friedrich Schulthess, 1835-1837. Six volumes. ,xxx,183,; ,206,; ,326,; ,335,; ,335,; ,451pp. including advertisements. 12mo. Half titles in volumes 1 and 2; additional titlepages in volumes 3 through 6. Publisher's marbled paper boards, gilt paper labels. Wear, rubbing, and a few scratches to boards and spines, closed tear to center of vol. 2, p. (second range, no loss of text), light foxing and mild even tanning throughout. Bookplate on front pastedown of vol. 1 (see below), contemporary annotations on front free endpaper of each volume. About very good. In a modern green cloth slipcase. Item #WRCAM56694
Rare collected first edition of Charles Sealsfield's six romantic-historical novels set in America. The first two volumes contain DIE GROSSE TOUR; volume three has RALPH DOUGHBY'S ESQ. BRAUTFAHRT, ODER DER TRANSATLANTISCHEN REISESKIZZEN (with additional titlepage); volumes four and five contain PFLANZERLEBEN, ODER, DER TRANSATLANTISCHEN REISESKIZZEN (with additional titlepages); and volume six has NATHAN, DER SQUATTER-REGULATOR, ODER: DER ERSTE AMERIKANER IN TEXAS. DER TRANSATLANTISCHEN REISESKIZZEN (with additional titlepage).
In these novels, Sealsfield sets out a vision of his ideal social order: the southern plantation society based in slavery, reinforcing a patriarchal republic. Various narrators describe the early history of the plantation society in the American colonies, including the settlement of Louisiana by the French, with European immigrants delivering "civilization" to the "wilderness." His narrators face such challenges as slave revolts, storms, and crop failures, but the intrinsic dominance of the white plantation owner overcomes everything. The final work, NATHAN, DER SQUATTER-REGULATOR... is based on the life of early Texas explorer Philip Nolan, and is one of the first novels set in Texas and the Southwest.
Charles Sealsfield (1793-1864) was born Karl Anton Postl in Poppitz, Moravia, then part of the Austrian Empire. After a brief time as a priest, he moved to America in 1823, adopted the name Charles Sealsfield, and built an entirely new life. It is not clear why Postl took the name Sealsfield, but he kept his secret well. His family declared him missing and presumed dead, and his true identity as Postl was not discovered until after he died. In America, he became a journalist and author, writing pieces critical of the Austrian government, while praising the government of his adopted country. He eventually returned to Europe, and settled in Switzerland in 1832, where he turned his focus to fiction. Sealsfield was particularly fond of Sir Walter Scott, and adapted his stories of American progress to Scott's heroic style. Sealsfield's novels were popular throughout Europe, and also did well in America (although usually via unauthorized translations). In 1844, Theodor Mundt declared Sealsfield the greatest American author; however, he misspelled the name as "Seatsfield," resulting in a number of misattributions in subsequent decades.
This copy was previously in the collection of Swiss librarian Paul Scherrer-Bylund (1900- 92), director of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich (Universitätsbibliothek), and later director of the library at the Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule (ETH) in Zürich. He was a prominent historian of the book and printing, a notable voice in the modernization of European academic libraries, and an important collector of Swiss and German printing.
Due to a change in publishers between volumes three and four, complete sets of these novels in original bindings are rare. HOWES P504 (ref). SABIN 64542. OCLC 24388657.