FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF DAVID PINSKI'S TEMPTATIONS: A BOOK OF SHORT STORIES, AMELIA EARHART'S COPY WITH HER OWNER SIGNATURE
(EARHART, Amelia) PINSKI, David. Temptations. A Book of Short Stories. New York: Brentano's, 1919. Octavo, original blue cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $2200.
First edition in English of this collection of stories by one of the great Yiddish writers, translated into English by Isaac Goldberg. Amelia Earhart's copy, signed by her: "Amelia M. Earhart New York City."
Although David Pinski is best known as "one of the most noteworthy Yiddish-language dramatists" (Britannica), Pinski began his career as a short story writer in Eastern Europe where he made many of his "most significant contributions to modern Yiddish literature… Many of Pinski's early pieces focused on the arousal of the strong and sometimes extreme feelings of individuals who collided with an insensitive and cruel environment. Pinski's early stories played a significant role in the modernization of Yiddish prose" (YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe). This is the first publication in English of this collection of his early American short stories in Yiddish, which include "Beruriah" (originally published in Yiddish in 1916), "The Temptations of Rabbi Akiba" (1917), "Johanan the High Priest" (1912), "Zerubbabel" (1905), "Drabkin" (1902), "The Black Cat" (unknown), "A Tale of a Hungry Man" (unknown), and "In the Storm" (1907). Without original dust jacket. This copy is inscribed by Amelia Earhart, who was a student at Columbia University at the time this book was published. She spent two years there in the College of General Studies, intending to go on medical school, only to discover that aviation offered more enticing challenges. Interestingly, Pinski—who emigrated to and lived in New York for half a century—had also attempted a degree (a doctorate) at Columbia, but failed to show up for his final exam as he had completed a play, Family Tsvi, the night before. Owner gift inscriptions to and from Lady Iris, presumably Lady Iris Chalmers, who, with along with other prominent aristocratic women concerned about "the Jewish question," spent much of the early 1930s organizing charity balls and performances to aid women and children in Palestine. Her gift inscription reads: "To Stevy—in the year of grace 1933—this book has a double significance and for your keen perception and cherished friendship I want you to have it. It has knocked around a lot, isn't much to look at-but-accept it from—Lady Iris" (thus suggesting that its current condition is a result of rough contemporary handling by Earhart and/or Chalmers).
Occasional soiling to interior, expert reinforcement to rear inner hinge, light wear to cloth extremities. A very good copy with a fascinating provenance.