Friday, January 10, 2014

Proper Motivation

A photograph of a man with cloth draped around his shoulders.On May 15th, 1872, Charles Edwin Hall, Class of 1870, petitioned President Asa Dodge Smith for mercy. At the end of the winter term in 1870, Hall had been expelled after standing before the faculty to answer for his participation in what he calls "the mock programme affair." Hall had apparently written a scurrilous essay about a fellow Dartmouth student that had then been published and distributed widely among the student body without Hall's knowledge. In his letter to President Smith, Hall acknowledges that he was at fault for writing the essay but states that he was unable to defend himself fully before the faculty. He now writes to clear up his involvement in the matter, with the hopes of finally receiving his degree.

As he describes the limits of his participation in the affair, Hall repeatedly underscores the fact that he is suffering from "mental discomfort" as a result of his lack of Dartmouth credentials and that the punishment has been "very hard" to him. He asserts that he would do almost anything to be a graduate of the class of 1870. Finally, after much handwringing, Hall divulges his true motivation for seeking a presidential pardon: he is engaged to a woman whose father belongs to the class of 1843 and won't let him marry her until he has been enrolled as an "honorable graduate" of Dartmouth College.

A page from a handwritten letter.A page from a handwritten letter.
A page from a handwritten letter.A page from a handwritten letter.

Faced with such a powerful plea, President Smith relented and Charles E. Hall was granted his diploma from Dartmouth College within the month. He went on to marry Nellie A. Barnard, daughter of Rev. Pliny F. Barnard, '43, three years later and moved to Greenville, NH, where he worked as a physician and pharmacist. Hall took to heart the hard lesson he had initially received at the hands of Dartmouth: he became a public servant, acting as the superintendent of schools for more than a decade before joining the New Hampshire state senate, where he served as chairman of the Committee on Education.

To learn more about Charles Edwin Hall, class of 1899, ask to see his alumni file at Rauner Library.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gatsby--Not So Great

A Modern Library edition of The Great Gatsby.F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has become a classic in American literature. It is taught in classes from high school to graduate school, has been adapted multiple times for film, and is lauded by many as the best singular expression of the Jazz age. But, it was not always so well received. In fact, it completely fell out of print for a period.

The Promethean trademark.We recently acquired a minor rarity to accompany our first edition: the 1934 Modern Library reprint. At the time, the Modern Library was the premier publisher of inexpensive reprints of popular literary novels. Their famous Promethean trademark usually assured solid sales. But it couldn't work its magic for The Great Gatsby, a novel of 1920's excess that lost its glamor during the Great Depression. The Modern Library printed only 5,000 copies. After five years, the initial printing still has not sold out, and they reluctantly discontinued the title.

Our copy is unusual because it appears to have actually been sold--it lacks the "Discontinued" stamp usually found on Modern Library editions of Gatsby.

The dust jacket for The Great Gatsby.
Come see it alongside the first edition by asking for Rare PS3511.I9G7 1934 and Rare PS3511.I9G8 copy 2.