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PP's First Visual Labelling Mistake

Many commentators ascribe Robert White's famous frontispiece image of the dreaming Bunyan to the third edition of 1679. No earlier edition has a frontispiece except for the Palmer-Nash first edition held in the Huntington Library, near to me here in Southern California. Was this a page from a later edition subsequently bound to the first edition? Does that explain why no other extant first edition has it? Yet there is something distinctive about it that points to a different explanation. Check out the details of the image side by side. (Photos of partial images taken from the 1928 James Blanton Wharey Clarendon Press edition, between xxxiv & xxv)



(Palmer-Nash 1st Edition) (1678) (British Library 3rd Edition (1679))


The Palmer-Nash 1st Edition has the city from which Christian is fleeing, book in hand, labelled as 'Vanity'. In the 3rd Edition, this is corrected to say 'Destruction.'

It is speculated that the rarity of this 1st Edition binding is a result of the error being detected at some early point in the print run and the frontispiece being removed until it could be remediated. One other thing is noteworthy, and it's reflected in my little chalk board logo for this site. I'd not given it much thought but my image is clearly drawing on the frontispiece, and it is seen in that Abeka Press book cover I commented on: Christian is walking with a staff. But this is nowhere in Bunyan's text. Yet I and other proper artists have been influenced by the book's paratextual apparatus (a fancy way of talking about the stuff that surrounds the author's words in the composition of the book that inevitably influence readers).


There are complex ways that we could argue that Vanity and Destruction could be read as the same spiritual place... Food for thought.

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