Peter Harrington has published a new catalogue of Modern Literature Part Two L-Z. As you might guess, this is the second part of a two-part series. Part One was issued early this summer and a review of this catalogue can be found by clicking here. The second catalogue adds almost 500 items to the first, creating a wide selection of 20th century literature to suit all kinds of literary tastes. Here a few of them.
Since Harrington is a British bookseller, what better way to start than with a quintessentially American book? Item 747 is Shane, Jack Schaefer's 1949 novel set in 19th century Wyoming. Shane is the prototypical mysterious stranger, who abhors having to use guns but is forced to do so to protect the good people from their evil nemesis. In the story, a large cattle rancher is attempting to force the homesteaders from their farms. They are just simple farmers, not able to adequately resist the rancher and his hired gun. Fortunately, in rides the mysterious Shane. He is stronger willed than the farmers, and knows right from wrong. He doesn't want to do it, but ultimately, he is forced by his righteousness to strap on those guns once more and put a few bullets through the bad guys. There is a morality play along with a good story here. Shane was later made into a movie and a television series. Priced at £3,750 (British pounds or approximately $6,006 in U.S. dollars).
Item 505 is an unusually inscribed copy of The Night Manager by John le Carré, published in 1993. Writes le Carré, “With all good wishes to the good soul who buys this book – if you would like your name added to it, please send it back to me via Hodder's and I will illuminate it for you...” And then, on the dedication page, he has written, “and for Nigel Williams, whom I take to be a wise, altruistic, benign book buyer and seller with a noble stance.” Le Carré has even added a drawing of a character with a handful of books. Nigel Williams was a London bookseller of literary firsts who died in 2010. £1,000 (US $1,601).
Next is an item from George Bernard Shaw, but it is not one of his plays or stories. This represents a serious slice of real life. Shaw had prepared a statement concerning censorship for a committee of the two Houses of Parliament. Not surprisingly, he was very much against it. The committee had little use for Shaw's words and declined to print them as part of the official record. So, Shaw printed them himself. Item 753 is his Statement of the Evidence in Chief of George Bernard Shaw, before the Joint Committee on State Plays. It was published in 1909 in a limited edition of 250 copies. It contains an inscription to American short story writer Frances Noyes Hart noting that the committee had refused to accept it. £1,000 (US $1,601).
Item 624 is Patrick O'Brian's Three Bear Witness. While this sounds like an account of what Goldilocks saw, it is actually the story of an Oxford man who goes to the Welsh countryside to cure his illness. He is helped by the wife of a neighboring farmer, and... you can guess the rest. This is the English edition, as the American one had a different title – Testimonies. O'Brian's choice was the American title, but the English publisher thought “Testimonies” dull and not something that would grab book buyers' attention. Both editions were published in 1952. £575 (US $920).
Item 528 is a thoroughly offensive sounding title, though one has to look a bit deeper to understand what Wyndham Lewis was saying: The Jews. Are They Human? The title was a take-off on a satirical book with a similar title except substitute “English” for “Jews.” Lewis was a rare combination of an accomplished artist and writer. He also harbored somewhat rightist political beliefs. In 1931, he wrote a book praising Hitler, describing him as a man of peace. However, Lewis visited Berlin in 1937, and what he saw deeply disturbed him. In 1939, he wrote a book about the cult of Hitler as well as this title. In this book, he defends the Jews and praises their accomplishments. £750 (US $1,201).