16 June, 2015

The Adventure of Augie March

BY Saul Bellow
Book Information1/1/0/US/VK/1953/?  •  220x155x45  •  771  •  Nobel'76  •  NBA'54


Welcome to the world of Augie March and his picaresque adventure. From the onset, Augie declared, tendentiously and without apology, that a man's character is his fate and that the first to knock - with intent, disguise, or otherwise - is the first to admit. This set the stage for an odyssey that saw Augie's upward drift away from his humble beginning. In that sense, Augie paralleled Jay Gatsby except that he never quite equalled Gatsby's wealth. Maybe it was the lack of a Daisy-que pull, maybe it was the consequence of Augie's desultory ways, or maybe it was, contrary to Augie's opening declaration, his Judesque destiny that could not be overcome. If life was indeed a cheat and its condition was that of defeat, Augie had, at the end, an almost philosophical retort - that the failure to fulfill his higher, almost Platonic, destiny nevertheless demonstrated its existence and the possibillity for his eventual deliverance. Published in September 1953 by Viking Press, this book won the 1954 National Book Award and signalled the arrival of Bellow as an author of the time.


This is the first edition first printing with first state dust jacket that is unclipped, showing the correct price of $4.50. The book is bound in top-grey and bottom-black boards with orange lettering, and has orange topstain. The copyright page should state "Published by The Viking Press in September 1953" with no mention of additional printing, and the statement "Printed in USA by the Vail-Ballou Press, Inc". If the latter reads H. Wolff instead, then the book is not a true first edition.

This book is not particularly rare but a VG copy is very hard to come by, especially one with a VG+ dust jacket that should retail at over $800 on eBay or Abebooks. DUe to the fragile nature of the dust jacket and the age of the book, some sellers tend to over-rate their offerings. This is a VG copy with a VG- dust jacket that has closed tears, chippings, the most serious of which is on the top of the back jacket, and serious creases, compensated by a VG+ book that is tight, clean and still has a vibrant topstain.



The dust jacket is fragile and the foldings are fatigued. There are chippings, with the most severe one at the top of the back. 

The original price is on the top of the front flap, and there is no mention of additional printing.

The back flap has an advertisement of John Steinbeck's short novels, and there should be no reviews.

The boards are in grey and black with orange lettering.

The true first edition book binding has two points, and the first is an orange stain at the top edge. If the top edge is unstaiined, then it is not the true first edition. The second point is at the copyright page.

The full title page.

The true first edition is identified by the statement "Published by The Viking Press in September 1953" with no mention of additional printing, and the statement "Printed in USA by the Vail-Ballou Press, Inc". If the latter reads H. Wolff instead, then the book is not a true first edition.



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