New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922. First edition. Hardcover. Near fine. First edition in book form, first 500 copies (numbered 325), first state. Lacking dust-wrapper (flaps laid in at rear). A little fading to the spine, some bumps to the fore-corners. With an early ownership signature (February, 1923) to the first free end-paper. Else fine in flexible black cloth with the title gilt to the front cover and author, title and publisher gilt to spine. The first state of The Waste Land is determined by the following issue points, all present: (1) The mechanical number-stamp on the copyright page is 5mm tall. (2) The “a” in “water”, page 22 line 8, is missing (“w ter”). (3) The “a” in “mountain”, page 41 line 12, is present. The Waste Land ranks as one of the most consequential publications of the twentieth century. Elevated into the ranks of English poetic modernism with the publication of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in 1915 and nourished by a continuing friendship with Ezra Pound, Eliot offered The Waste Land as his sophomore major publication. Eliot is not an imagist exactly, but the poem is characterized by a succession of sharp planes rather than by a soft tumbling through narrative. Like its rough coeval Ulysses, The Waste Land is built on a thicket of reference and intertext; as such it is a sort of skeleton key to the placement of Eliot in the literary landscape. Horace Liveright bought the publication rights to the poem at a dinner in January of 1922, at which he also bought Ulysses and a work of Pound’s (his translation, I think, of Remy de Gourmont, The Natural Philosophy of Love) — perhaps the most consequential dinner in literary history. Eliot published the poem in his literary magazine The Criterion in the United Kingdom in October; The Dial published the poem in the US in the same month; the present item is the first edition of the work in book-form. The first edition was limited to 1,000 copies, but done in two 500-copy halves, the first distinguished by the floppy black cloth. Gallup A6a. Poetry
(Inventory #: 200290)
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