London: Macmillan, 1886. Three octavo volumes, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: iv, 252; iv, 257, ; iv, 242, . Original dark blue-green cloth, double-rule border and panel stamped in black and blind, spines lettered in gilt with gilt publisher’s device and decorative rules at top and bottom stamped in black, brown-coated endpapers, all edges untrimmed. Two pages of publisher’s advertisements at rear of Volume II; two pages of advertisements at rear of Volume III. Owner signature of E.S. Russell to title page of each volume. Tiny scuff to spine and chip to endpaper of Volume I. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition of Henry James’s most overtly political novel, one of 750 copies, first published in the Atlantic Monthly. The Princess Casamassima traces the friendship of a radical London bookbinder and an idle princess with revolutionary sympathies: “By way of defending the aristocracy he said to her that it couldn't be true they were all a bad lot (he used that expression because she had let him know that she liked him to speak in the manner of the people).” The comparatively action-packed plot, which turns on a terrorist assassination attempt, shows the influence of Charles Dickens and Émile Zola on James more clearly than his introspective fiction. Edel & Laurence A29. A near-fine copy of a major novel.