"IF F. SCOTT FITZGERALD WAS THE CHRONICLER OF AMERICA'S ABANDONED JAZZ ERA, IN THE UK IT WAS MICHAEL ARLEN WHO CATALOGED THE HEDONISM OF THE LOST GENERATION": FIRST EDITION OF ARLEN'S FIRST BOOK, THE LONDON VENTURE, 1920
ARLEN, Michael. The London Venture… With Drawings by Michel Sevier. London: William Heinemann, 1920. Octavo, original pictorial black paper boards, original dust jacket. $250.
First edition of the first book by Arlen, a revealing semi-autobiographical novel whose wit and worldly charm heralded the arrival of England's new "literary phenomenon."
"If F Scott Fitzgerald was the chronicler of America's abandoned jazz era, in the UK it was Michael Arlen who catalogued the hedonism of the Lost Generation" (Independent). Born to Armenian parents, "Arlen was brought up in England, to which his father had escaped to avoid Turkish persecution" (Encyclopedia Britannica). He changed his name from Dikran Kouyoumdjian to Michael Arlen on the advice of the publisher of London Venture, his first book. It was based on a series of semi-autobiographical pieces in the magazine, The New Age, and was soon followed by Arlen's breakthrough novel, The Green Hat (1924). He quickly "became a literary phenomenon… It is the combination of enthusiasm and worldliness which creates the distinctive atmosphere of his early works" (Woodcock, ed. 20th Century Fiction, 45-6). His son Michael J. Arlen described London Venture, as "more fin-de-siecle Paris than postwar London" and recalled it was "the only thing he published (that I know of) where he ever set down anything interior of himself—for all to see, for himself to see" (Exiles, 67-68). First issue: with lettering printed in white (copies in gray boards, dated 1919, are later issue). Frontispiece and numerous in-text illustrations by Michel Sevier. Errata slip tipped-in at page 19; rear page of publisher's advertisements. Bookseller ticket.
Book fine; toning to spine of fragile dust jacket with panels expertly re-attached at rear seam.