“THE LITTLE FORMLESS FEARS CREEP OUT FROM THE DEEPER BLACKNESS”: SIGNED LIMITED EDITION OF THE EMPEROR JONES, 1928, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALEXANDER KING, SIGNED BY EUGENE O’NEILL
O'NEILL, Eugene. The Emperor Jones. New York: Horace Liveright, 1928. Slim quarto, original half black cloth and decorative paper boards, uncut and wholly unopened; original dust jacket, original slipcase. $800.
Signed limited illustrated edition, number 459 of only 775 copies signed by Eugene O’Neill, with frontispiece illustration and eight full-page color lithographs by Alexander King.
“The figure of Brutus Jones was suggested, O’Neill said, by the character of a bartender he had known, but other acquaintances and the figures of Henri Christophe and Haiti’s President Sam, who, like Jones, had a silver bullet, contributed elements to the portrait. A prospecting expedition to Honduras in 1909 gave O’Neill a sense of the reality of a jungle, and he claimed that the pulse of blood in his eardrums during a bout with malaria on that trip gave him the idea of the drum beat used throughout the play” (Travis Bogard, Contour in Time). The success of the play was the making of both O’Neill and the Provincetown Players. Alexander King, in addition to being an illustrator and a commercial artist, was a noted memoirist and raconteur. The Emperor Jones was first produced onstage in 1920 and was first published in 1921. It was made into both a film and an opera in 1933. The present edition is uniform in design and size with editions of The Hairy Ape (1929) and Anna Christie (1930), both also illustrated by King. Atkinson A15-V-I. Sanborn & Clark 27.
Tiny closed tear to dust jacket spine end, mild edge-wear to slipcase. A fine signed copy.