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Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1937 - First Printing. Octavo; black vertical-ribbed cloth, with titling and decorations stamped in silver on spine and front panel; red topstain; purple and red variant dustjacket (one of three, with no established priority); 314pp, [2]. Lengthily inscribed by Cain on the front endpaper on the day of publication: "To Charlie: In grateful acknowledgement of his labor in checking everything in this for me, and with the wish he will like it better in print. James M. Cain. Dec.1, 1937." Slight forward lean, small splash mark to front board, with faint discoloration to upper third of rear board; Very Good+. In a supplied (thought not by us) dustjacket, fully Fine, despite a faint vertical crease to left edge of spine panel. An impossibly bright and fresh example, completely free from the toning which affects even the best copies of this title. Cain's second novel, a hand-boiled story involving a down-and-out opera singer, a wealthy musicologist, and a Mexican-Indian prostitute. Alfred and Blanch Knopf read the novel during the summer of 1937, and were so thrilled with it they decided to rush out the book by December 1st of that year. Initially the novel was a critical success, and given the racy subject matter, created a furor rivaling that of 'The Postman Always Rings Twice'. Though sales eventually tapered off around 25,000 in early 1938 (Cain blamed the Church.), film rights were eventually secured by Warner Brothers, with Anthony Mann directing the film version starring Mario Lanza, Joan Fontaine, and Sara Montiel (1956). Given the close, personal nature of the inscription and the day on which the book was inscribed, the recipient was likely Charles Merz, whom Cain befriended during his time writing editorials at the New York World for Walter Lippmann. Merz was an important and influential friend in Cain's life; he was one of 9 people Cain singled out for thanks in the preface of his first book, 'Our Government,' and it was from Merz that "Cain learned another thing that would influence his writing: Attitude and conviction are important, but information, if you have enough of it, will speak for itself. Thus Cain's almost fanatic obsession in his writings, including his novels, with reporting and accuracy" (Hoopes, p.173). A stunning and significant copy. (Hoopes, pp.173-186, 282-288). [Attributes: First Edition; Signed Copy]
      [Bookseller: Captain Ahab's Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-10-29           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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