FIRST EDITION OF SWEET FLYPAPER OF LIFE, BOLDLY INSCRIBED BY LANGSTON HUGHES AND SIGNED BY PHOTOGRAPHER ROY DECARAVA
(DECARAVA, Roy) HUGHES, Langston. The Sweet Flypaper of Life. Photographs by Roy DeCarava. Story by Langston Hughes. New York: Simon and Schuster, (1955). Small octavo (4-3/4 by 7-1/8 inches), original photographic and textual wrappers. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition of this landmark collaboration between Hughes and DeCarava, preferred softcover edition, inscribed on the verso of the front wrapper by Hughes in his trademark green ink, "Sincerely—Langston Hughes," exceedingly scarce signed on the same page by photographer DeCarava, containing Hughes' lyrical text and 141 engaging photogravures by DeCarava, housed in a custom clamshell box.
Guggenheim Award-winner Roy DeCarava is considered "the spiritual 'father' of much contemporary African American photography" (New York Times). Langston Hughes, already "acknowledged as the most influential black writer of his generation, and as one of the greatest American poets of all time, here composed a fictional story to accompany DeCarava's images, creating a lyrical tale about imaginary characters to go with photographs of real people" (Roth, 138). "An important step forward" in the history of photobooks, Sweet Flypaper of Life proved especially significant in its "design, featuring a pacy, cinematic style" (Parr & Badger II:242). "The book won two awards, received critical acclaim in The New York Times Book Review… sold out its first edition, and was reprinted many times. It is one of the most successful collaborations between a great writer and a great photographer ever published" (Roth, 138). Preferred first softcover edition with text beginning on front wrapper, text block on page 3; published the same year as the first cloth edition. "First Printing" stated on copyright page. Open Book, 160. Bruccoli & Clark 3, 164.
Interior very fresh, light marginal toning to fragile wrappers and spine. A near-fine copy handsomely housed in a custom clamshell box.