"A PAGAN NOVEL FOR A PAGAN WORLD": FANTASTIC ASSOCIATION COPY OWNED BY THE WIFE OF LEWIS' PUBLISHER ALFRED HARCOURT, NUMBER 1 OF ONLY 500 SIGNED COPIES, WITH A CHECK ENDORSED BY LEWIS FOR AN ADVANCE ON THIS NOVEL TIPPED IN
LEWIS, Sinclair. Arrowsmith. New York: Harcourt, Brace, (1925). Octavo, original buckram spine, blue paper boards, original printed paper label, top edge gilt, uncut. $14,000.
Signed limited first edition of what many consider Lewis' greatest novel, number 1 of only 500 large-paper copies signed by him. An excellent association copy, owned by Ellen Knowles Eayrs-Harcourt, wife of Lewis' publisher Alfred Harcourt, who in a page and a half inscription describes advancing Lewis and his friend, science writer Paul de Kruif, $1000 from her personal account for de Kruif to get married before the two men set out for a year-long trip to research the book that would become Arrowsmith, with the check she made out to de Kruif endorsed on the verso by both Lewis and de Kruif tipped to the front pastedown.
"Using for his theme the losing fight made by two men with whom scientific truth is religion, Mr. Lewis draws a picture for us that is disquieting in its disillusionment… Arrowsmith is a pagan novel for a pagan world… an authentic step forward" (Books of the Century, 63-64). Although Arrowsmith was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Lewis declined the honor, purportedly because Main Street (1921) had not been so honored. His rejection, however, also secured front-page status for this satire of the medical profession in the nation's newspapers. While Lewis is credited as the sole author, he was greatly assisted in its preparation by science writer Paul de Kruif, who received 25% of the royalties on sales. Adapted to the screen in 1931 by director John Ford.
This is the copy of Ellen Knowles Eayrs, wife of Lewis' publisher Alfred Harcourt. In 1922, when the events Eayrs recounts in her inscription occurred, she was Harcourt's secretary; she and Harcourt did not marry until 1924, the year prior to this novel's publication, after Harcourt's first wife committed suicide in 1923. In this copy, Eayrs has penciled a lengthy inscription on the front free endpaper recto and verso: "When Red Lewis planned to write a novel about a scientist he persuaded Paul de Kruif, who was just leaving the Rockefeller Institute, to spend a year with him roaming around the West Indies, South America & Europe so that the book should have genuine scientific material and point of view. Paul at the time was engaged to Rhea Barbarin who was living in Michigan and was anxious to marry her before he left but he hadn't a cent to his name. Three days before Red & Paul were to sail, they blew into the Harcourt Brace office to see if they could get an advance immediately so that he could take a 2:30 train to Michigan. No officer of the firm was in so I gave them my personal check which both of them endorsed and Paul got the cash from the Fifth Ave. Bank in New York City. He & Rhea were married on my $1000 and have certainly lived happily ever afterward. EKE-EKH." ("EKH" indicating that she wrote this inscription at some point after marrying Harcourt.) With the original check for $1000, endorsed on the verso by both Lewis and de Kruif, tipped to the front pastedown. Issued on the same day as the stated second (first trade) edition. Without scarce glassine and slipcase. With spare paper spine label tipped to rear flyleaf. Pastore 9. Bruccoli & Clark III:213. With Eayrs' penciled signature on the front flyleaf.
Front inner paper hinge expertly reinforced, text clean, light rubbing to board edges, slight toning to spine. An extremely good copy, with an appealing association.