“FROM THINGS ABOUT TO DISAPPEAR, I TURN AWAY IN TIME”: ASSOCIATION COPY OF WRIGHT MORRIS’ GOD’S COUNTRY, 1968
MORRIS, Wright. God’s Country and My People. New York: Harper & Row, (1968). Square octavo, original stiff photographic wrappers. $450.
First edition, softcover issue, of the final work in Morris’ innovative trilogy, an association copy from the library of photographer Margery Lewis Smith, longtime partner of renowned photographer W. Eugene Smith, featuring 84 black-and-white photogravure plates.
The publication of God’s Country in 1968, with its fusion of text and image, came 22 years after Morris created The Inhabitants (1946): the “first work in photofiction” and the first volume in his evocative photobook trilogy (Roth, 122). Its sequel The Home Place (1948) further revolutionized this new multi-media form, and Morris had hoped to complete the series in 1949. But if this award-winning novelist is “the Proust of the plains, and photographs are his madeleines, his time capsules, sometimes, inadvertently, [are] his time bombs.” For after his original publisher refused to print his next novel as a photobook, omitting Morris’ photographs from The World in the Attic (1949), the writer/photographer would have to wait two decades for the publication of God’s Country, this critically praised “capstone of his photo-text trilogy.” Reflecting a growing appreciation for Morris’ photography that was led by MoMA curator John Szarkowski, God’s Country contains 34 images published in book form for the first time, with 50 incorporated from the first two photobooks. In its overdue publication, many recognized that, “as Morris knew better than most, photographic ‘truths’ are inventions not so different from fictions” (Afterimage). First edition in wrappers, published same year as first cloth edition, no priority established. As issued without dust jacket. From the library of photographer Margery Lewis Smith, whose work was featured in Steichen’s 1955 Family of Man exhibit, and who was a longtime partner of influential photographer W. Eugene Smith.
A fine association copy.