"ONE OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE AMERICAN WRITERS": FIRST EDITION, FIRST PRINTING OF CALDWELL'S TOBACCO ROAD, 1932
CALDWELL, Erskine. Tobacco Road. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932. Octavo, original gilt-stamped russet cloth, original dust jacket.
First edition of the controversial third novel by Caldwell, viewed by Faulkner as "one of America's five greatest novelists," early banned from libraries and issued in a first printing of only 1500 copies, an exceptional copy in original unrestored dust jacket.
Written in a tiny room in "a condemned New York City brownstone," Caldwell's provocative novel about white sharecroppers continues a "long tradition of Southern writing," yet joins the work of Thomas Wolfe and Faulkner in offering a "damning dissection" of rural life. After he submitted it to Scribner's famed editor Maxwell Perkins in 1931, Caldwell's third novel caused the firm to become "embroiled in an acrimonious debate about whether to publish Tobacco Road," and when it was finally released only a "small printing of 1500 copies rolled off the press in early 1932" (Miller, 128-37). After a Broadway stage adaptation premiered in 1933, "Hollywood also bought the book, but Caldwell described Zanuck's 1941 movie version as 'one of the most conspicuous failures in cinematic history' because of its falsified happy ending" (New York Times). Faulkner considered Caldwell "one of America's five greatest novelists, and as late as 1960 he was under consideration for the Nobel Prize" (Oakes, American Writers, 69). He remains "one of the most innovative American writers, whose comic vision of the grotesque absurdity of his characters' antics was carefully balanced by his insistence on the inequity and deprivation of their lives" (ANB). First printing with Scribner's "A" on copyright page. Bruccoli & Clark II:87.
Book fine; light edge-wear and soiling, mild toning to spine of extremely good unrestored dust jacket.