"THEMES THAT PROFOUNDLY DEFINE HIS FICTION": RARE LIMITED FIRST EDITION OF HEMINGWAY'S 1926 ONE-ACT PLAY, TODAY IS FRIDAY, ONE OF ONLY 300 COPIES, IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS WITH ILLUSTRATION BY JEAN COCTEAU
(HEMINGWAY, Ernest). Today Is Friday. (Englewood, N.J.: As Stable Publications, 1926). Slim octavo, original stiff ivory pictorial paper wrappers, original staple and stitching; uncut; pp. (8).
Limited first edition of Hemingway's highly elusive one-act play about the Crucifixion, number 90 of only 300 copies printed, seen as a "paradigm for his subsequent heroes… every one of Hemingway's brave men who will die," in fragile original wrappers with illustration by Jean Cocteau.
"Scholars have long recognized the recurrence of crucifixion motifs in Hemingway's fiction… his easy familiarity with 'Our Lord,' as he preferred to call Jesus, underscores themes that profoundly define his fiction: pain, suffering, death and heroic manhood. Indeed, the portrayal of Christ in Today Is Friday… may be taken as a paradigm for his subsequent heroes, nearly all of whom bear in some way the imprint of Calvary" (Verduin, Lord of Heroes, 22).
In this little known one-act play about the Crucifixion, "three Roman soldiers, speaking in colloquial American English, drink wine in an ancient version of a bar," yet their language is "neither sacrilegious nor irreverent. Its purpose is not to trivialize or parody the crucifixion but to highlight its transhistorical significance. The wineseller's name, George, not only recalls the Roman army officer who was martyred for refusing to renounce his Christian faith, but also happens to be the name of the man who runs the diner in The Killers… Beyond the soldiers' rough banter is the intimation that the person of Jesus is about to take on mythic proportions" (Zaid, Camouflage of the Sacred). It is "significant that Hemingway wrote Today Is Friday in Madrid—and within 24 hours of The Killers, in which professional thugs plot the murder of their own scapegoat, a prizefighter… identification with Christ is explicit in nearly every one of Hemingway's brave men who will die… The Christ of his imagination provided him with a compelling and endlessly exemplum of man in extremis, holding tight against pain and submitting unwhimperingly to the inevitable" (Verduin, 34-35). Limited first edition: No. IV of "The As Stable Pamphlets." The only impression of Today Is Friday consisted of 300 copies, 260 for sale." Precedes the following year's inclusion in Men Without Women. In May 1927 Hemingway suggested that it "be the second short story in Men Without Women—it appeared as the twelfth" (Grissom A.5). As issued with caption title only. Front wrapper with Cocteau illustration signed in printed cursive with printed script: "L'impuissance à convaincre." Without accompanying original envelope, often lacking. Hanneman 5.
Text pristine, faintest toning to wrappers. An exceptional about-fine copy.