Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Waste Lands

A title page for "The Waste Land."
We have three "firsts" of T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland. Two variant copies of the first American edition, each with typographical oddities of interest to obsessive collectors, and the first English edition. They are all fascinating in their own right but two things jumped out when we had them pulled for a class last week.

One of our American editions published by Boni & Liveright in 1922 still has its original dust jacket--a rarity in itself--but also a bookseller's advertising tag attached. On the bottom corner of the back cover is simple ad for the original seller of the book, The Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. At the time, it was the largest retail book outlet in the country. It was known as the haunt of Boston's literary elite, but was also famous for innovative sales gimmicks--this being one.
A paper cover for "The Waste Land."The back cover.

The first page of "The Waste Land."
The first English edition will give you goosebumps. It was published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press in 1923. Virginia Woolf herself hand set all of the type (she said her hands were shaking when she finished). The Woolfs had impeccable taste as publishers, but they were not the best printers the world has seen. The type was unevenly inked in the printing process giving the page a blotchy look. In a way, that just makes Virginia's work more apparent and heightens the aura of the book. You can see the handmade quality.

Come see all three by asking for Rare PS3509.L43 1922 copies 1 and 2, and Val 817 E42 Y512.

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