"ONE OF AMERICA'S FINEST WRITERS OF FICTION": FIRST EDITION OF WILLA CATHER'S FIRST BOOK OF FICTION, THE TROLL GARDEN, 1905, HER COLLECTION OF SEVEN STORIES, FOUR APPEARING IN PRINT FOR THE FIRST TIME
CATHER, Willa Sibert. The Troll Garden. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1905. Octavo, original gilt- and blind-stamped red cloth, uncut. $2300.
First edition, first issue, of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's stellar first book of prose, a collection of seven stories with four appearing in print for the first time, featuring "Death in the Desert," "The Sculptor's Funeral", and "Paul's Case"—"an American Classic."
Troll Garden, Cather's first book of fiction, is preceded only by a collection of poetry published in 1903. The book's seven stories are thematically united in their focus on art and artists. The volume also stands out for its "overall design and meaning… and a careful arrangement of stories to support the themes woven into the fabric of the text" (Woodress, Willa Cather, 172). Published in April 1905, "the collection, which contains some of her best-known work, led to Cather's appointment as managing editor of McClure's Magazine." Four of the seven stories appear here in print for the first time: "Flavia and her Artists," "Garden Lodge," "Marriage of Phaedra" and "Paul's Case"—"the book's climactic story, now considered an American classic" (Britannica). "Death in the Desert" is "the centerpiece of the book" (Woodress, 175). It offers "a remarkable example of the intensive care Cather gave to her fiction" (Meltzer, Willa Cather, 65). "The Sculptor's Funeral" is "one of Cather's best-known stories" and "Wagner Matinee" is one of the few tales in the collection that is focused on western characters. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, Cather "is regarded as one of America's finest writers of fiction." Wallace Stevens wrote of Cather in 1940: "We have nothing better than she is" (Columbia Companion, 198). First issue, with McClure/Phillips/& Co. at foot of spine (instead of Doubleday, Page & Co.), with cancel for "Marriage of Phaedra" at 155-156. Without rare dust jacket. Three works earlier serialized, including "The Sculptor's Funeral" in McClure's Magazine. Both "Death in the Desert" (Scribner's Magazine) and "Wagner Matinee" (Everybody's Magazine) "extensively reworked by Cather for inclusion in Troll Garden" (Crane, 16). Crane A4.a. Tiny owner notation to rear blank.
Only most minor wear to spine ends. An about-fine copy.