ASH RARE BOOKS – MODERN GREATS IN FIRST EDITION
FIRST EDITIONS AND MODERN GREATS AT
FIRST EDITIONS OF MODERN GREATS
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“ALAIN-FOURNIER” – [FOURNIER, Henri-Alban, 1886-1914] : THE WANDERER (LE GRAND MEAULNES).
London : Constable & Co., 1929. First edition in English : the London issue of the 1928 American sheets. Alain-Fournier’s 1913 masterpiece, translated by Françoise Roussel Delisle (1886-1974) and with a lengthy introduction by Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) at whose instigation the translation was made.
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BRADBURY, Ray (Ray Douglas), 1920-2012 : SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.
London : Rupert Hart-Davis, 1963. First British edition. Bradbury’s lyrical, mysterious, dark and fantastic coming of age novel as Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to town – see Mephistophele, the Lava Drinker, the Demon Guillotine, the Dangling Man, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, etc.
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CONRAD, Joseph, 1857-1924 : UNDER WESTERN EYES.
London : Methuen & Co., (1911). First edition. “The man who says he has no illusions has at least that one” – Conrad with his classic of terrorism, set variously in St. Petersburg and Geneva and published 5th October 1911. “Any hesitation seems to lie, not in over-estimating, but in doing justice to the rare truth and beauty of Mr. Conrad’s latest book. No Englishman could have written it” (The Sketch, 25th October 1911).
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DE LA MARE, Walter (Walter John), 1873-1956 : THE THREE MULLA-MULGARS.
London : Duckworth & Co., 1910. First edition : a later issue, in the secondary binding, and with inserted advertisements datable from internal evidence to perhaps 1920. De La Mare’s neglected masterpiece – an enduring fantasy of the quest of the three royal monkeys.
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DONLEAVY, J.P. (James Patrick), 1926-2017 : A SINGULAR MAN.
London : Bodley Head, (1964). First British edition. His second novel – a dark masterpiece of love and imagination. Originally published in Boston the previous year.
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DOUGLAS, Norman (George Norman), 1868-1952 : SIREN LAND.
London : J. M. Dent & Sons, 1911. First edition : although 1,500 copies were printed, 200 were sent to New York to make up the American edition – and 890 were later pulped, leaving a maximum of 410 surviving copies. “A new stage of intimacy in the Anglo-Italian love affair and one of the happiest of travel books” – Cyril Connolly citing this among his 100 Key-Books of the Modern Movement.
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“DYLAN, Bob” — [ZIMMERMAN, Robert Allen, 1941- ] : TARANTULA.
London : MacGibbon & Kee, (1971). First British edition. His first book — “It is an astonishing, exasperating book; a beautiful, flowing, stormy prose poem. Tarantula is surrealism on speed, a phantasmagoric trip through America — seen by an impatient, restless, brilliant man stabbing at life with a lethal humour and a strange narrative power” (dust-jacket blurb by Michael Gray). Dylan was to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.
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FAULKS, Sebastian, 1953- : BIRDSONG.
London : Hutchinson, (1993). First edition. Loosely inserted is Faulks’ printed compliments slip, inscribed and signed by Faulks to Peter Wilkinson, “for his edition of Birdsong”. His fourth and most famous novel, set before and during the Great War. Soon adapted for radio and the stage, with a television version in 2012, starring Eddie Redmayne and Clémence Poésy.
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FORD, Ford Madox [formerly HUEFFER], 1873-1939 : NO MORE PARADES : A NOVEL.
London : Duckworth, (1925). First edition. “No more hope, no more glory, not for the nation, not for the world I dare say, no more parades”. The second of the “Parade’s End” tetralogy – Christopher Tietjens, “the last Tory”, struggles with love and war. “There are not many English novels which deserve to be called great: Parade’s End is one of them” (W. H. Auden).
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GREER, Germaine, 1939- : THE FEMALE EUNUCH.
New York : McGraw Hill Book Co., (1971). First American edition. “Feminists have always seemed to me to be particularly repulsive ... until I met Germaine Greer, an Australian who lectures in English literature at Warwick University. Miss Greer is about to publish a book about women’s rights called The Female Eunuch ... which is likely to take the notion of freedom for women somewhere far beyond its present boundaries. You may judge how far when I tell you that she wanted to call it, The Clitoris Strikes Back” (Quentin Crewe in the Sunday Mirror, 27th September 1970). First published in London towards the end of 1970, but it was the American edition which really propelled the author to global fame.
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HAMMETT, Dashiell (Samuel Dashiell), 1894-1961 : THE CONTINENTAL OP.
New York : Lawrence E. Spivak, (1945). First edition. A collection of four stories previously unpublished in book form, edited and introduced by Ellery Queen. Bestseller Mystery B62.
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JONES, James (James Ramon), 1921-1977 : FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.
New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951. First edition. His first and most famous novel, based on his own army experiences in the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, which he witnessed. An immediate success, winner of the National Book Award, always included in lists of the major novels of the twentieth century, and the basis of the memorable and multiple Oscar-winning 1953 film, with Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, etc.
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KAVANAGH, P.J. (Patrick Joseph), 1931-2015 : A SONG AND DANCE.
London : Chatto & Windus, 1968. First edition. His first novel, winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize – set in London and the South of France – “cold indifference ... tugs at them like a dirty wind”.
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LEE, Laurie (Laurence Edward Alan), 1914-1997 : CIDER WITH ROSIE.
London : Hogarth Press, 1959. First edition : the first issue, with the potentially libellous passage, “There was a fire at the piano-works almost every year, it seemed to be a way of balancing the books”, still present on p.272.
MAXWELL, Gavin, 1914-1969 : RING OF BRIGHT WATER.
London : Longmans, Green & Co., (1960). First edition. “Nowhere in Scotland is more evocative of a specific book than Sandaig, near Glenelg, Inverness-shire, which Maxwell disguised as Camusfeàrna ...” (ODNB). Otters, nature, and the basis of the 1968 film, with Bill Travers, Virginia McKenna, etc.
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MORGAN, Charles (Charles Langbridge), 1894-1958 : THE GUNROOM.
London : A. & C. Black, 1919. First edition. Morgan’s extraordinary and “deadly true” first novel, written while a prisoner-of-war and rewritten after his manuscript was lost at sea. His searing account of the systematic and sadistic bullying of tyro midshipmen in the Royal Navy of the time led to the book’s strange disappearance from the bookshops – never officially suppressed but, as Morgan later recalled, “the ordinary means of distribution ceased to be available to it. How this was brought about I do not know, but as the Navy has a Secret Service, I draw my own conclusions”.
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NAIPAUL, V.S. (Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad), 1932-2018 : IN A FREE STATE.
London : André Deutsch, (1971). First edition. Winner of the 1971 Booker Prize, described by the judges as “a work of great distinction, beautifully written, deeply felt, addressing itself with an often disturbing irony to the problems of uprooting and dislocation in the post-colonial world”. Less a novel than a novella introduced by two short stories — an Indian servant in Washington, D.C., two brothers from the West Indies in London, two English diplomats in East Africa — all within a framing narrative. “Its revolutionary nature still remains untarnished; indeed, the experimental side seems magnified at a time when mainstream deployment of the terms avant-garde and experimental, even form, seems to have fallen into misuse” (Neel Mukherjee in the Paris Review, 20th February 2018).
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O’BRIEN, Edna (Josephine Edna), 1930- : [THE COUNTRY GIRLS TRILOGY].
London : Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) / Jonathan Cape, (1960-1964). A first edition set of her scandalous trilogy – the separately published “The Country Girls” (1960) – Irish girls in black underwear, banned in Ireland, publicly burnt by her parish priest in Tuamgraney – “By turns beautiful and bawdy, funny and haunting ... often referred to as the quintessential tale of Irish girlhood, it is not the novel that broke the mould: it is the one that made it” (Eimear McBride); “The Lonely Girl” (1962) – filmed in 1964 as “The Girl With Green Eyes”, with Rita Tushingham, Lynn Redgrave, Peter Finch, etc. – and the darker concluding volume set in London, “Girls in Their Married Bliss” (1964).
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“O’BRIEN, Flann” – [O’NOLAN, Brian, 1911-1966] : THE DALKEY ARCHIVE.
London : MacGibbon & Kee, 1964. First edition of the last novel published in his lifetime – “the best comic fantasy since ‘Tristram Shandy’” – mad scientist plots the end of the world, time travel used to age whiskey, both James Joyce and St. Augustine with speaking parts, etc.
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“ORWELL, George” – [BLAIR, Eric Arthur, 1903-1950] : NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR : A NOVEL.
London : Secker & Warburg, 1949. First edition. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it”. The most compelling and chilling novel of the twentieth century – not least in that it now appears to have been widely adopted as an instruction manual. “Every statue and street and building has been re-named, every date has been altered ... History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right”.
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RATTIGAN, Terence (Sir Terence Mervyn), 1911-1977 : THE WINSLOW BOY.
London : Hamish Hamilton, (1946). First edition. The pursuit of justice for the unimportant – one of the defining plays of the mid twentieth century, frequently revived and here inscribed by Rattigan to his secretary Mary, signed with forename (Terry) and dated October 1946. Mary Herring began working for Rattigan shortly before the play opened at the Lyric and was to become his confidante, companion, guardian of his reputation, controller of his finances, and keeper of his secrets for the next seventeen years.
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RICHARDSON, Dorothy M. (Dorothy Miller), 1873-1957 : INTERIM.
London : Duckworth & Co., (1919). First edition. Christmas in 1896 and Miriam arrives in Putney to stay with the Broom sisters. It was in the previous year that the phrase “stream of consciousness” was first used in a literary context, specifically to describe the style of Richardson’s “Pilgrimage” sequence of novels, of which this is the fifth and probably the most experimental – “Never, perhaps, has the familiar definition of a realistic novel as a ‘transcript from life’ been capable of a more exact application than in the case of the series of books in which Miss Dorothy Richardson is recording the experiences of her heroine ... brimful of the most brilliantly vivid impressions ... a curious reminder that life is a flashing succession of photographic impressions” (The Scotsman, 22nd December 1919).
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RUNYON, Damon (Alfred Damon), 1884-1946 : SHORT TAKES : WITH A MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR BY DON IDDON.
London : Constable & Co., (1948). First British edition. A selection of over seventy of the best of the short stories and articles arranged under various headings. Includes “Tripping over Trivia”, “Horse Sense”, “Larcenous Ladies”, “A Dog’s Best Friend”, “Smoking Ladies”, etc.
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SILLITOE, Alan, 1928-2010 : THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER.
London : W. H. Allen, 1959. First edition. His second book, winner of the Hawthornden prize, the title novella memorably filmed by Tony Richardson, with Tom Courtenay and Michael Redgrave, in 1962. With eight further short stories, including “On Saturday Afternoon”, etc.
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SMART, Elizabeth (Elizabeth Ann), 1913-1986 : BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT.
London : Editions Poetry London, (1945). First edition. “I am standing on a corner in Monterey, waiting for the bus to come in, and all the muscles of my will are holding my anticipation to face the moment I most desire”. Smart’s celebrated fictional account of her love affair with the poet George Barker (1913-1991) – “a visceral journey into the human heart, written in a language so urgent, raw and lyrical that each sentence is a bruise or a kiss” (Raffaella Barker).
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TRYON, Thomas, 1926-1991 : THE OTHER.
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1971. First edition. Inscribed, signed and dated (May 1971) by the author on the front free endpaper. Runaway best-seller success for this first novel from the Hollywood film star — a psychological horror-upon-horror story set in 1930s Connecticut, itself instantly turned into a film.
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UPWARD, Edward (Edward Falaise), 1903-2009 : IN THE THIRTIES.
London : William Heinemann, (1962). First edition. The first novel in the “Spiral Ascent” trilogy – failed poets and communism in the 1930s – “I believe that it may well be the first part of one of the greatest and most original novels of our time” (Christopher Isherwood).
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WESKER, Arnold (Sir Arnold), 1932-2016 : CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING : A PLAY IN TWO ACTS.
London : Jonathan Cape, (1962). First edition. Square-bashing with the RAF – and the undermining of a rebel.
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WOLFE, Tom (Thomas Kennerly), 1931-2018 : THE KANDY-KOLORED TANGERINE-FLAKE STREAMLINE BABY.
London : Jonathan Cape, (1966). First British edition. Wolfe’s first collection – twenty-two essays and half a dozen caricatures. An entirely new voice in journalism skyrockets metaphors, neologisms, hip-talk and learned reference into the pursuit of the form and style of the new. Includes “The Fifth Beatle”, “The First Tycoon of Teen”, “The Last American Hero”, “The Girl of the Year”, “The Nanny Mafia”, “A Sunday Kind of Love”, “The Woman Who Has Everything”, “Why Doormen Hate Volkswagens”, etc. First published in New York the previous year, but here in the period-defining dust-jacket by Jonathan Miller.
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