Very Good. Item #7005
Munich: Friedrich Adolf Ackermann, Publisher, 1887. Third Edition, First Thus. Octavo; 220pp. Half calf with marbled boards; raised spine bands with gilt ornaments and lettering; title on sea-green label in top spine compartment. Textblock gilt on all edges. Textured gilt endpapers. Binder's label on recto of rear free endpaper: "G[ustav] Fritzsche / Buchbinderei / Leipzig."
Joints and hinges very robust; some staining and shallow scraping to calf edges and panel edges and corners. A previous owner—ach!—used the front panel as a beverage coaster at least three times, but the color of the circular stains is nearly camouflaged by the similar flecked color of the marbled paper, so the volume is still visually respectable. Gilding on spine and textblock edges still brilliant. Textblock unmarred and unmarked.
Jonathan Birch (1783-1847), a Prussiaphile Londoner, was a childhood friend of King Frederick William IV of Prussia, and would eventually be invited to live in the Prussian royal palace. His translation of the Nibelungen Lied, first published, posthumously, in 1848, was "complete," though based on Lachmann's truncated text, now viewed as inadequate.
Birch's translation is into English iambic heptameters ("fourteeners") which have never gained respectability apart from their use by Chapman and in Coleridge's Ancient Mariner. Birch's results in English are peristaltic. But fourteen syllables per line are nothing compared to Wagner's 17 hours per Ring Cycle, and Birch's evangelizing work for pastiched Prussian mythology was part of the cultural tide that made Bayreuth possible. The three editions and fancified binding attest to his translation's perceived cultural importance.