“A WRITER’S WRITER AND A PHOTOGRAPHER’S PHOTOGRAPHER”: FIRST EDITION OF THE HOME PLACE, THE SECOND VOLUME IN MORRIS GROUNDBREAKING TRILOGY OF PHOTOFICTION, SIGNED BY MORRIS
MORRIS, Wright. The Home Place. New York and London: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1948. Octavo, original full rust cloth, original dust jacket. $1600.
First edition of the second volume in this innovative trilogy of photofiction by writer Wright Morris, who in 1942 won only the second Guggenheim Fellowship ever awarded to a photographer and earned a second in 1946 for the completion of this evocative work, with 88 black-and-white photographs. Signed by Morris on the front free endpaper.
“A writer’s writer and a photographer’s photographer… Wright Morris’ most distinctive contribution to American letters was his first-the multi-media form he adapted from the newly popular photographically illustrated magazines of the ‘30s to merge his two arts into one. Morris produced two experimental ‘photo-texts’ in the ‘40s: The Inhabitants (1946)… and The Home Place, a homespun yet formally complex novel with photographs facing each page of text.” By largely printing the images as full-bleed pages, Morris created the sense that these photographs were themselves “relics of the decayed farm” that was his novel’s focus (Afterimage). Like the first in Morris’ trilogy, The Inhabitants, this inventive photobook pays tribute to a rural people whose testimony was preserved in “their artifacts-objects (mostly of wood) bearing their imprint.” Morris had planned to continue this series-one now considered the “first work in photofiction”-but Scribner’s insisted on omitting the photographs from this novel’s 1949 sequel, The World in the Attic, and he was unable to complete the photobook trilogy until God’s Country and My People, produced in 1968 with the encouragement of MoMA curator John Szarkowski (Roth, 122). Excerpts appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Life at the time of this book’s publication in the summer of 1948.
Book fine, dust jacket very nearly so. Scarce signed.