Lot 49
  • 49

Wolfe, Thomas

15,000 - 20,000 USD
17,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • ink and paper
Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life. NY: CS Sons, 1929

8vo. Publisher’s navy blue cloth, stamped in gilt; gilt rubbed and faded on spine. Original dust-jacket, with Wolfe’s photograph on rear panel by Doris Ulmann; red ink bled-through onto verso; some tape repair; fadded, some wear on top and bottom edges; corner of the “L” in “Look” on the spine partially lost. In a cloth slipcase.


Johnson A2.1.a

Catalogue Note

An important presentation copy of the first edition: “For Cornelius J. Sullivan with friendship, and with warm thanks because he and Mrs. Sullivan have been among the best friends this book has had / Thomas Wolfe / March 22, 1930.”

Cornelius J. Sullivan, graduate of Amherst College and Harvard law, was a Manhattan lawyer, a member of the Board of Education and a patron of the arts. His wife, Mary—along with Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and Lillie P. Bliss—was a socially prominent benefactress who conceived of the Museum of Modern Art.

Look Homeward, Angel is the first of Wolfe’s four thinly veiled autobiographical novels. The dust-jacket prints a biography of Wolfe on the rear panel; the following quotation, which was sent along with the manuscript to his publishers, appears on the inner flaps:

“The book covers the life of a large family (the Gants of Altamount) for a period of twenty years. It tries to describe not only the visible outer lives of all these people, but even more their buried lives.

The book is fiction—it is loaded with invention: story, fantasy, vision. But it is a fiction that is, I believe, more true than fact—a fiction that grew out of a life completely digested in my spirit, a fiction which telescopes, condenses, and objectifies all the random or incompleted gestures of life—which tries to comprehend people, in short, not by telling what people did, but what they should have done.

What merit it has I do not know. It sometimes seems to me that it presents a picture of American life that I have never seen elsewhere.”