“SOME OF HIS FINEST WORK IN THE GENRE”: FIRST EDITION OF SOMERSET MAUGHAM'S AH KING, 1933, IN SCARCE ORIGINAL DUST JACKET
MAUGHAM, W. Somerset. Ah King. London: William Heinemann, 1933. Otavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. $400.
First edition of this major collection of six stories by Maugham, inspired by his travels to Asia in the 1920s, in scarce original dust jacket.
"Somerset Maugham had one of the most versatile— and lucrative— careers of any literary writer of the 20th century. He also had an eventful life; during the First World War, he served as a British agent, and his travels took him to the Far East and the South Seas, where much of his best work is set… his gift lay not in a striking style or in sweeping ambition but in the raw powers of observation and the glittering precision" of his writing (New Yorker). Ah King, a collection of six stories inspired by Maugham's visit to Asia in the late 1920s, contains "some of his finest work in the genre at which he remains an acknowledged master. Fluent in style and apparently effortless, the stories are tightly constructed and minutely observed, amply demonstrating the three virtues that he himself prized highest, of lucidity, simplicity, and euphony" (Hastings, Secret Lives, 312-13). Containing: "Footprints in the Jungle," "The Door of Opportunity," "The Vessel of Wrath," "The Book-Bag," "Back of Beyond," and "Neil MacAdam." This first (trade) edition is believed to have been printed before the signed limited first edition, which appears to be printed from the same forms. However, the two are also believed to have been released simultaneously. Stott A46a. Bookplate of book collector Scott Cunningham. Bookseller ticket.
Book with rear inner paper hinge split, mild toning to interior and spine, dust jacket with light rubbing and wear to spinehead. A near-fine copy.