New York : Random House
We offered this copy of the first edition in our List 36.
born as: William Cuthbert Falkner
Novelist and short story writer best known for his cycle of works set in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi. Faulkner (who added a "u" to his surname in 1924) began writing poetry but then developed a complicated, stream-of-consciousness prose style. Though appreciated in literary circles, by 1945 all his works from the productive previous two decades were out of print. In 1944 Malcolm Cowley and others initiated a critical reassessment of his life work as a cohesive whole, and within a few years he became the most lauded and studied living American author. Standard references include Joseph Blotner's biography (published 1974, revised 1984), the Catalog of the Carl Peterson Collection (1991) and Joseph Brodkey's multi-volume bibliographies of his own collection.
Collecting tips:Faulkner provides opportunities for the beginning collector, and challenges for the veteran collector. After his literary reassessment in the late 1940s Faulkner's works were printed in larger numbers and collectible copies of most of his later works are readily available. Prior to this, however, Faulkner was neither widely read nor appreciated. Fine copies of his early works are particularly difficult to obtain. Faulkner was also famously averse to signing trade editions of his books -- it is generally easier to find signed limited editions while authentic signed trade editions command a premium (and often have amusing stories of provenance). Faulkner's first book, a generally regarded as juvenile collection of poems, The Marble Faun (1924) is very uncommon. Paid for by his friend Phil Stone, the cardboard spine is often perished (or found restored), and the very thin paper jacket is often missing or heavily restored. Ironically, but not too surprisingly, this is the one Faulkner title that can be found signed, as he must have sent off a batch of them in the first flush of authorial pride. Signed or not however, you'll probably have to pay the equivalent of a luxury car for a jacketed copy. Perhaps more difficult to find in any kind of jacket is his first novel Soldier's Pay (1926). Copies in fine jackets are rare. Another one to look out for is Turnabout, a short story that was separately published in Canada in 1939 (in a sort of cheesy purple velour binding, issued without jacket) without the author's permission. Reportedly only about 50 copies were published, and while its hard to argue for its importance, its easy to argue for its rarity. Reportedly, one of our Canadian colleagues once noted a copy at a bookstore, and not knowing of its significance, but finding it intriguing, reported it to another American dealer, who immediately sent him off to secure it. However, before he did so, the Canadian dealer insisted on attending a poetry reading, which diversion from the mission nearly gave his American friend a coronary (all's well though - he did eventually secure the book). Thus if you are standing next to me, or any other first edition dealers of a certain age, who are scheming amongst themselves about the advisability of buying a certain book, and one says to the other "and remember, no poetry readings," you'll know what they're talking about.
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We also offer a comprehensive William Faulkner Bibliography and Price Guide.