"DETECTIVE FICTION CAN REMIND US THAT WE ARE ALL UNDERGROUND MEN": FIRST EDITION OF THE UNDERGROUND MAN, SIGNED BY ROSS MACDONALD
(MILLAR, Kenneth) MACDONALD, Ross. The Underground Man. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971. Octavo, original half black cloth and orange paper-covered boards, original dust jacket. $1100.
First edition of "Macdonald's best book yet" (Eudora Welty) one of his final Lew Archer mysteries, signed by Macdonald, issued the same year Macdonald appeared on the cover of Newsweek, a fine copy.
Underground Man, "the 16th Archer novel and one of the best" (Magill, 1138), was published just as Macdonald was featured on the March 22, 1971 cover of Newsweek. Eudora Welty, who became one of Macdonald's closest friends and correspondents, had not yet met him when she praised the novel as "Macdonald's best book yet… exhilaratingly well done" (New York Times Book Review). To Welty, Macdonald ultimately became a "more serious and complex writer than Chandler and Hammett ever were." Speaking of the essence of his work and this novel, Macdonald once said: "Detective fiction can remind us that we are all underground men making a brief transit from darkness to darkness" (Sipper, ed. Inward Journey, 154, 133). In 1980, the year he was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award for his body of work, as well as the Life Achievement Award ("The Eye") from the Private Eye Writers of America, Welty paid a final visit to Macdonald, then suffering from Alzehimer's. Though his final letter was mailed to her that year, she continued to write him until his death in 1983. The over 300 surviving letters of their correspondence appeared in Meanwhile There Are Letters (2015). "First Edition" stated on copyright page. Bruccoli, Checklist, 60. Barzun & Taylor 2317. Reilly, 987-89. Magill, 1135-40. Bruccoli & Layman, 244. Hubin II:I,527. Steinbrunner & Penzler, 262-63.
A fine signed copy.