"HIS LEW ARCHER SERIES IS A MONUMENTAL CONTRIBUTION TO DETECTIVE LITERATURE": FIRST EDITION OF MACDONALD'S DROWNING POOL, THE SECOND LEW ARCHER NOVEL, INSCRIBED BY MACDONALD
(MILLAR, Kenneth) (MACDONALD, Ross) MACDONALD, John Ross. The Drowning Pool. New York: Knopf, 1950. Octavo, original green, blue and white paper covered boards, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
First edition of Macdonald's second Lew Archer novel, confirming the signal influence of his California private detective in creating "a new literary standard for his genre" (New York Times), issued under the pseudonym of John Ross Macdonald, a very scarce copy inscribed by him using his pseudonym, "Best wishes to Roy W—, John Ross Macdonald," basis for the 1975 film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Ross Macdonald ranks with Hammett and Chandler as one of America's "finest detective novelists. His Lew Archer series is a monumental contribution to detective literature" (Reilly, 988). With Moving Target (1949) and Drowning Pool, the first two Lew Archer novels, Macdonald "opened fresh thematic territory and set a new literary standard for his genre. Vital trends in modern crime fiction drew impetus from Macdonald's work" (New York Times). "Few private eye novels would open, as Drowning Pool does, with a poison-pen letter quoting from Shakespeare's sonnet 94, but in Macdonald's Lew Archer series urbane literary allusion is par for the course. Macdonald, whose real name was Kenneth Millar, published his first Archer novel in 1949, after completing a PhD on Coleridge at the University of Michigan" (Guardian). To mystery writer Robert B. Parker, Macdonald transformed the detective novel into a "vehicle for high seriousness… in stories so strong, and prose so supple and clean that he made the world of literary judgment pay attention. It was not just that Macdonald taught us how to write… he taught us how read, and how to think about life" (Sipper, ed. Inward Journey, 138). Basis for the 1975 film of the same name starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Macdonald's first four novels appeared under his birth name of Kenneth Millar. Moving Target, his first Lew Archer book, appeared under the pseudonym of John Macdonald, his father's first two names. Drowning Pool and the next five novels were issued under the name of John Ross Macdonald to separate his works from those of John D. MacDonald. Millar settled on the pseudonym of Ross Macdonald with publication of The Barbarous Coast (1956). "First edition" stated on copyright page; with photographic image of Macdonald in silhouette on dust jacket rear panel. Bruccoli, Checklist, 13-14. Hubin II: I,527. Barzun & Taylor 2307. Magill III:1134-1140.
Text fine, mild toning to spine of near-fine book; slight edge-wear, several closed tears at seams, small bit of tape reinforcement to verso of very good dust jacket.