Disinherited

Jack CONROY

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Item#: 125137 price:$2,400.00

Disinherited
Disinherited
Disinherited
Disinherited

"A MAJOR AMERICAN NOVEL" (NEW YORK TIMES): RARE PRESENTATION FIRST EDITION OF JACK CONROY'S FIRST NOVEL, DISINHERITED, 1933, INSCRIBED BY HIM WITHIN DAYS OF PUBLICATION, ALONG WITH TWO LAID-IN PHOTOGRAPHS ALSO INSCRIBED BY HIM

CONROY, Jack. The Disinherited. (New York): Covici Friede, (1933). Octavo, original orange cloth, original dust jacket. $2400.

First edition of a memorable presentation copy inscribed by Conroy with a nod to his birthplace in Moberly Missouri, dated within days of publication, "For My Friend & Comrade, Leo Lipp, with sincere regards, Jack Conroy, Moberly Mo. Nov 30, 1933 (That's Thanksgiving day for some people!)"—this rare copy accompanied by two laid-in photographs also inscribed by him, one of a young Conroy in a black-and-white photograph, inscribed below the image, "For Leo Lipp with fraternal regards, Jack Conroy Sept 4, 1933," the other a color photograph of him nearly three decades later, standing beside a large commemorative plaque noting Moberly as "the birthplace of writer Jack Conroy," with his inscription on the right corner of the image, in faint red ink reading, "for my friend Leo Lipp, Jack Conroy, Chicago 10-2-61."

Conroy, "a premiere midwestern novelist, editor, and folklorist," was linked "with the region from the time of his birth in the Monkey Nest coal camp on the outskirts of Moberly, Missouri. His Irish immigrant father, who had studied for the priesthood, died in a mining accident," along with three of his brothers when Conroy was still a boy. Later known as the "Sage of Moberly," Conroy worked throughout the 1920s as a migratory worker, and one of his first published works, Hard Winter, "was accepted by H. L. Mencken's American Mercury in 1931, when he was digging ditches and sleeping on a sandpile. He went on to organize and edit from his Moberly home two significant journals, the pioneering Rebel Poet (1931) and the influential Anvil (1933)," which "published Richard Wright for the first time" (Buhle, Encyclopedia of the American Left, 163, 51). In 1933 he published his first book, Disinherited. "A major American novel" (New York Times), it "has a driving vitality… [that] springs from authentic experience" (Rideout, Radical Novel, 184). In Disinherited, we can't help but shrink "from the blast of the steel furnace, the stench of the rubber plant, the heat of a mid-western street" (Madden, Proletarian Writers, xxvii-xxviii, 32). To esteemed critic Daniel Aaron, Conroy's autobiographical novel does not flinch from showing how "excessive work brutalizes and breaks down the human spirit and how chronic unemployment can sap a man's self-respect" (Introduction to Disinherited).

Conroy's writings are particularly "nourished by Midwestern currents of radicalism, the old labor press, and homegrown varieties of populist and socialist culture and politics… his sources are Southwestern humor, vernacular protest and indigenous radicalism"(Wixon, Worker-Writer, 72). Disinherited notably led to works co-authored with Black writer Arna Bontemps, including They Seek a City (1945). He returned home to Moberly in 1966, where he "continued to play an important role encouraging younger writers, during a career in which by his own account he ''must have written a million letters,'" including the recipient of this copy, radical writer Leo Lipp. Looking back, Conroy noted that he hoped, above all, that he "succeeded in conveying something of the times, something of the terror and the uncertainty, and the actual desperation." He tried, he said, "to follow Whitman's injunction of vivifying the contemporary fact" (Madden, xxix). "In 1984 Moberly honored her 'Sage' with a day of celebrations" (Buhle, 164). Six years later he died in Moberly. First edition, first printing. This distinctive copy with both the first printing dust jacket and a later printing yellow dust jacket laid beneath it: the latter with quotes by Erskine Caldwell, Granville Hicks, Albert Halper and others. Rideout, 182-84.

Book fine; light edge-wear with small bit of chipping to spine head of very scarce dust jackets. An excellent near-fine copy with a memorable provenance.

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