Lot 46
  • 46

West, Nathanael

30,000 - 50,000 USD
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  • ink and paper
Miss Lonelyhearts. New York: Liveright Inc., 1933

8vo. Publisher’s brown cloth’ stamped in silver; slight soiling to spine with head and foot slightly frayed. Original illustrated dust-jacket slightly soiled with some losses at end of spine panel and extremities, but a rare jacket in the modern canon. In a cloth folding case.


Connolly 76, White A3

Catalogue Note

A presentation copy of the first edition:To Arthur Kober for his bar mitzvah / from his great and good friend / Nathanael West.” The fiction writer and dramatist Arthur Kober (1900-1975) mined the humorous aspects of Jewish-American life for his success as a Hollywood screenplay writer.

West received virtually no education in the Jewish religion and never had a Bar Mitzvah. His black humor novella, Miss Lonelyhearts, about a newspaper columnist who deals with the ridiculous 'problem' letters sent to his paper, was issued by Liveright in April 1933 in an edition of 2200 copies. Liveright went bankrupt as the novel was being published, however, and the printer refused to release most of the copies. Despite favorable reviews, copies were unavailable to bookshops. In early June, Harcourt Brace took over the edition (their imprint comprises the second issue) but, by then, demand had diminished and the book was remaindered by Greenberg in 1934 (the third issue).

Of all three issues only about 800 copies had been sold. The publication history therefore explains why the present inscribed first issue in dust-jacket is especially rare.