25 September, 2015

Absalom, Absalom!

BY William Faulkner
Book Information1Trade/1/0/US/RH/1936/?  •  220x153x33  • 575  • Nobel'49

William Faulkner - born on September 25, 1897, which makes today his 118th birthday - defines, with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, the literary legacy of the American "lost generation" writers. Faulkner and Hemingway won the Nobel Literature Prize, in 1949 and 1954 respectively, using distinctive but diametrically opposite style and genre. Hemingway's lean and tight prose on themes of love and war, spiced with exotic, chic locales, render his classics viscerally accessible to the general reader. Faulkner, probably the most celebrated Southern writer, is more difficult to read by comparison, his prose often peppered with devices of deliberate ambiguity, leaving the reader to ponder over the proper reference for that wandering pronoun without clear antecedent, or over the confusion in space, time, or information, or over long, sometimes ponderous sentence in recondite vocabulary, on emotionally charged, often Gothic, themes. I have never completed a book by Faulkner, or by Joyce; I'm more of a Saul Bellow reader. The closest living writers to succeed Faulkner and Bellow are Cormac McCarthy and Philip Roth respectively.


Faulkner wrote what is considered his best work - including "The Sound and the Fury", "Light in August", "As I Lay Dying", and "Absalom, Absalom!" - in relative obscurity and it was not until his Nobel in 1949 before his fame soared. What are considered his lesser work subsequently won the major American literary awards, with "A Fable" winning both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award in 1954. He picked up another Pulitzer with "The Reivers" in 1962 and another National Book Awards for his "Collected Stories" in 1951.


This is the first trade edition first printing with the first state dust jacket that is unclipped, reflecting the correct price of $2.50. The book is bound in black clothed board with five red bands embossed across the boards and spine, with gilt lettering to spine and front board, including a facsimile of Faulkner's signature, and has red top stain. The copyright page should state "Copyright, 1936, by William Faulkner" with no mention of additional printing.

This book is somewhat scarce, especially with a VG dust jacket, and such copies can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks from $2,000 onwards. This is a NF copy with a NF- dust jacket with some minor rubbing, a closed tear and a small chip, and a NF book that is tight and clean, including the appending map at the back. There is a 300-copy signed limited edition that is the true first edition, and it typically retails at around $5,000 because Faulkner was parsimonious in book signing. 


















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