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artful books

Saul Bellow Dangling Man - signed copy
London: John Lehmann, 1946. First UK Edition. Original Cloth. Very Good. PUBLISHING DETAILS: A rare signed first UK edition of multi-award-winning Saul Bellow's debut novel, published by John Lehmann of London in 1946. 191 pages. Size: 19 x 13 cms (7.5" x 5"). Weight: 220g (8 ozs). CONDITION: I would rate this book as very good. The original yellow cloth covers are generally clean and sound and the binding is tight and secure. There is slight spine lean. The text is clean, bright and free from foxing. Mr Bellow has flat-signed on the half-title page. This rare signed copy lacks its dustjacket and has been priced accordingly for the collector on a budget. THE NOVEL: Saul Bellow is a Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner and triple NBA Award winner and Dangling Man is his first published work. Written in diary format, the story centers on the life of an unemployed young man named Joseph, his relationships with his wife and friends, and his frustrations with life. Living in Chicago and waiting to be drafted, the diary acts as a philosophical confessional for his musings. It ends with his entrance into the army during World War II, and a hope that the regimentation of army life will relieve his suffering. Dangling Man raises interesting parallels with Turgenev's 'The Diary of a Superfluous Man' and explores the 19th century Russian literary concept of the 'superfluous man' through a contemporary American experience. (Source: Wikipedia) (Book ref. 001189) £238.00
Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot (signed copy)
London: Fourth Estate (HarperCollins), 2011. 1st Edition. Original Cloth. Fine. PUBLISHING DETAILS: This is one of just 2000 signed first editions published by Fourth Estate of London in 2011. 406 pages. Size; 24 x 16 cms (9.5" x 6"). Weight; 765g (27 ozs). CONDITION: I would rate the dustjacket and book as fine. Save for two very faint small marke on the back cover of the book, they are pretty well as new. Mr Eugenides has flat signed on the limited edition page and there is a 'Signed by the Author' label on the front of the dustjacket. THE BOOK: From the sleevenotes - 'It's the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead - charismatic loner and college Darwinist - suddenly turns up in a seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus - who's been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange - resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate. Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they have learned. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology laboratory on Cape Cod, but can't escape the secret responsible for Leonard's seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love. Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.' REVIEWS: "A stunning novel - erudite, compassionate and penetrating in its analysis of love relationships... Eugenides continues to show that he is one of the finest of contemporary novelists."--Kirkus "Eugenides's superb third novel is his most mature to date, the work of an author who has achieved a new gravity after the audacious brilliance of his earlier work... Eugenides looks poised to become a writer on a par with Updike and Cheever as an anatomist of contemporary American matters."--Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times Reviews. "Eugenides's first novel since 2002's Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex so impressively, ambitiously breaks the mold of its predecessor that it calls for the founding of a new prize to recognize its success both as a novel--and as a Jeffrey Eugenides novel."--Publishers Weekly (Book ref. 001187) £38.00
Philip Roth When She Was Good (signed copy)
New York: Random House, 1967. 1st Edition. Original Cloth. Very Good. PUBLISHING DETAILS: A signed first edition, first printing of Roth's third novel, published by Random House of New York in 1967. 306 pages, top edge red, fore-edge uncut. Size: 22 x 15 cms (9" x 6"). Weight: 610g (22 ozs). CONDITION: I would rate the book and dustjacket as very good. The book's original dark blue cloth covers are clean and sound and the binding tight. The text and endpapers are clean and free from foxing with perhaps a hint of age toning. The unclipped dustjacket is clean and bright and complete, with just minor chips to the top of the spine and to the corners (see photo). The author has signed a book plate, which is affixed to the half title page and a Certificate of Authenticity issued by California Authographs is included. Altogether, this is a handsome signed copy of a collectible early Roth title. THE NOVEL: In this funny yet chilling novel. the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, the subject the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman. When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate. REVIEW: "When She Was Good," both in its sustained theme and its detail work, is a step in class above most recent novels: up on the ledge, in fact, where stringent standards set in. Roth is a serious writer, willing to turn his face against fashion and the expected, and to take improbable chances. It requires guts to produce a 19th-century novel at this point. To produce a passably good one requires a bit more - an eccentric dedication, a functioning nostalgia and a wayward point of view." New York Times Books. (Book ref. 001174) £189.00
Philip Roth The Human Stain (signed copy)
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Illustrated by Michaela Sullivan (dustjacket). 1st Edition. Original Cloth. Near Fine. PUBLISHING DETAILS: A signed first edition, first printing of Philip Roth's fine Zuckerman novel, published by Houghton Mifflin of Boston in 2000. 361 pages. Size; 23 x 16 cms (9" x 6.5"). Weight; 640g (23 ozs). CONDITION: I would rate the book and unclipped dustjacket as near fine. Apart from the smallest hint of edgewear, both are pretty well as new. Philip Roth has signed a publisher's plate, which is neatly mounted on the half-title page (see photo). THE NOVEL: The Human Stain is set in late 1990s rural New England. Its first person narrator is 65-year-old author Nathan Zuckerman, a character in previous Roth novels, including American Pastoral (1997) and I Married a Communist (1998); these two books form a loose trilogy with The Human Stain. The Human Stain is set in a period of fierce culture wars, political correctness and the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. The story is narrated by Zuckerman, a writer who lives a secluded life where Coleman Silk is his neighbor. Silk is a classics professor and dean of faculty at Athena College, a fictional institution in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. At 71, Silk is unjustly accused of racism by two black students, because of referring to them as "spooks", since they had never shown up in his seminar: "Do they exist or are they spooks?" Having never seen the students, Silk did not know they were black when he made the comment. The uproar eventually leads to Silk's resignation and soon after, to the death of his wife Iris. Silk starts an affair with one of the school's janitors, Faunia Farley, a 34-year-old woman married to an abusive Vietnam veteran. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that Coleman Silk is a mixed-race man who had been presenting himself as Jewish. The Human Stain was a national bestseller and was adapted as a film by the same name, released in 2003 and starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, and Gary Sinise. The novel won the PEN/Falkner Award for fiction and the W H Smith Literary Award for 2001. (source: Wikipedia). "The Human Stain concludes Philip Roth's eloquent trilogy of postwar American lives that are as tragically determined by the nation's fate as by the "human stain" that so ineradicably marks human nature. This harrowing, deeply compassionate, and completely absorbing novel is a magnificent successor to his Vietnam-era novel, American Pastoral, and his McCarthy-era novel, I MARRIED A COMMUNIST." (Publishers). (Book ref. 001166) £235.00