“THE NOVEL’S LITERARY PRESENCE CAN STILL BE FELT”: FIRST EDITION OF HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S RAMONA, 1884, THE FIRST NOVEL ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
JACKSON, Helen H[unt]. Ramona. A Story. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1884. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth, floral-patterned endpapers. $1600.
First edition of Jackson’s most popular novel, a landmark work set in Southern California that is the “first novel about the the region ever published,” in original gilt-stamped cloth.
Helen Hunt Jackson’s “dedication to the cause of justice for Indian tribes resulted in a well-researched exposé of Indian mistreatment published in 1881 as A Century of Dishonor.” When this and other of “her nonfiction writings did not initiate the reforms that Jackson sought, she said of Ramona, ‘I am going to write a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian experiences in a way to move people’s hearts” (ANB). To writer Michael Dorris, Jackson “incorporated in her own work not only the Southern California locales of her recent experience, but many of the names, events, and specific occurrences she had witnessed and heard about… much of the crucial action in Ramona was taken whole from real life” (Introduction, Ramona). “The novel’s literary presence can still be felt…. Ramona has also taken an important place in the literary history of Southern California [as] the first novel about the region ever published… Jackson created the first figures in a long line of… heroes who populate the later Southern California fiction of writers as diverse as Nathanael West, Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Pynchon and Joan Didion” (Phillips, Helen Hunt Jackson, 3). Less than a year after Ramona’s publication, Jackson died in San Francisco. With four pages of rear advertisements. Without original dust jacket, rarely found. BAL 10456.
Text generally fine with only tiny bit of margin loss to one leaf (27) not affecting text, cloth-gilt lovely. A highly desirable near-fine copy.