03 May 2008
My New Baby
Across the River and into the Trees First Edition (American: English Version with a superior dustjacket was released three days before the American version, making it the true-est of first editions, but that edition, with its awesome wrap-around red and yellow Venetian Gondola cover does not have the adorable picture of Papa and kitty on them and I feel, for some unarticlulated reason that it is strange to possess the English first printings of American authors and vice versa, with the exception of where it is unavoidable, such as with Sylvia Plath, whose works were always published in Britain first, and Ted Hughes, whose works were always published in America first), perhaps Hemingway's most misunderstood book, because lazy critics were not up to the task of researching the enormous amount of "calculus"-level iceberg allusion and suggestion underneath the surface of this strange novel.
Best to just "give it to them straight," as with The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls so they can get it. Yes, I'm being a snob here. But it is accurate. Anyway, I'm privileged in that I'm reading these books twenty and fifty and seventy-five years after their release, and I've been taught how to read them by one of the world's best readers and scholars of Hemingway's work. When I get snobby, I have to remember how I initially felt about all of his "fine-ness" and "niceness" and "goodness" and that early critics and other readers (like some idiots who post their opinions online) don't have this gift, a gift I've earned by working hard as a TA and even harder as a student.
If anyone is getting started or wants to team up on their Christmas shopping, this is fucking incredible. I know, I know—I'm a whore. But Jesus said "Ask and ye shall receive." Today's The Secret way of thinking would have us dovetail all spiritual teachings into ways to increase material gain, so I'll just pretend I'm not me or contradict myself and go along with that for a moment here. Hemingway was really, really into art and collecting the paintings of the great artists of his time. Publishing a new book by a famous author and including a frontispiece of contemporary (in this case Cubist) art publshed on hig quality paper in vibrant colors with a tissue endpaper to protect it these days would be unheard of. All true Charles Scribner's & Sons first editions of Hemingway books have a capital "A" on the copyright page. If there is no "A" it is not a first edition. Again: No A, No 1st. Period. It may be a second printing from the same year, because his books always sold out their first issue quickly. Hence, my copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls was printed in 1940, the year the book came out, but it is not a true first edition. It is probably a second printing after the initial pressing sold out. First editions of Death in the Afternoon are rare. Finding any of his first five books for under a thousand is also rare. There are several copies of "First Edition" A Farewell to Arms on eBay right now. They are gorgeous and would gladly welcome them into my collection, but they are not true first editions. No A. They were published in 1929, no doubt, but they are ont the first editions. The auctioneers are either unaware of this fact, or completely aware of this fact and trying to trick people who don't know any better with their excessive verbosity and facny page designs. Also, these copies have no dustjacket, Which I'm not as hung up on as most collectors. This is because, as a child, I was given Stephen King first editions (and then subsequent editions when I did some chores and went out and bought them) and I always took the covers off. It is funny/painful to think of now. I cut up the dust jacket to Firestarter to tape the green eyes and the fiery mouth to my first electric guitar. I cut out the picture of J.R.R. Tolkien from a first edition of The Silmarillion that I bought for two bucks at a yard sale with Anna one day so I could put the picture of my idol on the little bulletin board I had over my desk where I wrote my horror and fantasy stories as a child. So, all through my growing up years, I looked at my shelves lined with clothbound spines with gold and silver lettering silenty emanating forth their invisible brilliance. I now keep dustjackets, but I am strongly considering destroying the cover of Duma Key, which—come on now—is just awful. (Compare to the superior, again, British cover. Will I read it this summer? I'm thinking yes. We'll see how busy I am and how my attempts at writing a novel or novella or at least a goddamn short story whay has it been so em-effing long go). It is preferrable to have the dustjacket, but it is not five hundred dollars preferrable.
Well, back to work on my Reading Hemingway's Across the River and into the Trees by future esteemed critic Kevin Larkin Angioli paper.