“THIS WOULD BE TEN TIMES AS GOOD IF I COULD’VE USED 1% OF THE REAL STORIES…”: TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, MICHENER’S FIRST BOOK, INSCRIBED BY HIM TO A COLLEAGUE AT MACMILLAN
MICHENER, James. Tales of the South Pacific. New York: Macmillan, 1947. Octavo, original pale orange cloth, original dust jacket.
First edition, presentation/association copy of Michener’s first—and Pulitzer-winning—professional writing effort, the basis of the classic musical “South Pacific,” inscribed by the author to a colleague at Macmillan, “Dear Van: This would be ten times as good if I could used [sic] 1% of the real stories you’ve told me in the last few years. Jim Michener.”
“In 1940 Michener began a nine-year association, interrupted by World War II, with the Macmillan publishing firm as a social-science editor. In October 1942 Michener enlisted in the U.S. Navy reserve, was commissioned the following February, served for a year at desk assignments in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, and in April 1944 was sent to the Pacific theater of operations. He was partly an aviator inspector but mostly a publications officer. His visits to some 50 islands inspired his Tales of the South Pacific (1947). Originally scheduled for publication in 1946, the book did not actually see print until the next year, when Macmillan issued it with a new, tipped-in title page dated 1947, as here. Although the book won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, it remained little known until South Pacific, the 1949 musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, made him famous and rich. Then he began to write full time” (ANB). “Macmillan apparently had little faith in the book, because the first edition was cheaply produced, with a flimsy dust wrapper and a high-acid-content text stock that has browned badly over the years” (Groseclose, 21). Groseclose A.003. Inscribed to George Lippincott Van Curan, colleague and good friend of Michener in the school textbook division of Macmillan in the late 1940s.
Book with slight rubbing to spine ends and extremities. Dust jacket lightly rubbed with three tape repairs to verso. A near-fine inscribed presentation/association copy.