“I INVENTED THE MOST HORRIFIC TALE I COULD IMAGINE”: PREFERRED FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF FAULKNER’S SANCTUARY
FAULKNER, William. Sanctuary. New York: Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith, (1931). Octavo, half gray cloth and magenta boards, patterned endpapers, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $11,500.
First American edition, in first-state binding, the exceptionally scarce preferred edition of Faulkner’s most controversial novel, the work that assured his status as “one of a handful of promising young novelists who commanded the attention of critics,” in rarely found dust jacket.
Of the inception of Sanctuary Faulkner wrote, "I took a little time out and speculated what a person in Mississippi would believe to be current trends, chose what I thought was the right answer and invented the most horrific tale I could imagine and wrote it in about three weeks." Literary scholars have since uncovered, however, Faulkner's deception. "The original text wasn't written in 'about three weeks' but in four months—from January to May 1929—with painstaking revisions. It wasn't wholly invented, but was largely based on a story that Faulkner had heard from a woman in a New Orleans nightclub about her abduction by an impotent gangster" (New York Times). With publication of this explosive and highly controversial novel, "there could be no doubt that Faulkner had become a permanent feature of contemporary literature in America, and one of the handful of promising young novelists who commanded the attention of critics" (Parini, 163). Sanctuary's notoriety and brisk sales finally brought Faulkner the commercial success for which he had been hoping since publication of The Sound and the Fury (1929) and As I Lay Dying (1930). Preferred first American edition: preceded 16 days by the London edition. First-state binding, with magenta endpapers featuring gray abstract pattern (later changed to solid magenta endpapers); dust jacket with $2.50 price on front flap, "Check List for the Discriminating Reader" to rear panel. Petersen A8.2. Brodsky 90. Bruccoli & Clark I:122. Connolly, The Modern Movement 69.
Book fine; light edge-wear to bright near-fine dust jacket.