Original autograph manuscript, signed

John BURROUGHS

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Item#: 127124 price:$12,000.00

Original autograph manuscript, signed
Original autograph manuscript, signed

"I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE, AND THERE IS NOT MUCH OF IT I WOULD CHANGE IF I COULD LIVE IT OVER AGAIN": ORIGINAL 1904 JOHN BURROUGHS MANUSCRIPT FOR HIS ESSAY "AN OUTLOOK UPON LIFE," TWICE SIGNED BY HIM

BURROUGHS, John. Original autograph manuscript in Burroughs' hand, his essay "An Outlook upon Life," signed. No place, circa 1904. Octavo (5-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches), 55 leaves of laid and wove paper, written in ink and pencil on rectos for 55 pages. Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box. $12,000.

Original John Burroughs 55-page manuscript in pencil and ink for his 1904 essay "An Outlook upon Life," later collected in his 1908 book Leaf and Tendril, signed by him in ink on the first page and again on the final page of what eventually became Part II of the three-part essay.

"A few years since," Burroughs writes in his introduction to this essay in his 1908 volume of essays Leaf and Tendril, where this essay appeared in its final form, "a magazine editor asked me… to tell his readers something of what life meant to me, basing the paper largely upon my own personal experiences. The main part of the following essay was the result. The paper was so well received by a good many readers that, with some additions, I have decided to include it in this collection" (Leaf and Tendril, 241).

"I have had a happy life," Burroughs opens, "and there is not much of it I would change if I could live it over again. I think I was born under happy stars, with a keen sense of wonder, which has never left me and which only becomes jaded a little now and then, and with no exaggerated notion of my own deserts. I have shared the common lot, and have found it good enough for me. Unlucky is the man who is born with great expectations and who finds nothing in life quite up to their mark." In the present working manuscript, Burroughs had initially written "Unlucky is the man who is born with great expectations and who finds that everything falls a little below good enough for him", only to cross these italicized words out and replace them with "nothing in life quite up to their mark." (In the final published version the line reads "quite up to the mark.")

The present lengthy manuscript includes a number of such cross-outs, emendations and additions, and the different papers—some held together with straight pins and paper clips—and shifts between ink and pencil indicate that Burroughs wrote this manuscript over the course of several sessions. Indeed, the present manuscript is undoubtedly longer than the final published form of the essay as it appears in Leaf and Tendril, and possibly includes pages used for the original 1904 magazine version, revised and edited by Burroughs for the final book publication. The first 21 pages (numbered a-d, then 3-19) follow the Leaf and Tendril version fairly closely; then the final 18 pages of that group and the group of seven separate pages (numbered 8-15, held together with a straight pin) combine to form the final portion of Burroughs' essay, with some elisions. The nine penciled pages constitute section II (of 3) in the final version of the essay. See BAL 2180.

Occasional light edge-wear, toning, ink-smudging. A fascinating working manuscript, differing substantially in places from the final version that appeared in Leaf and Tendril.

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