"THE FIRST WAVE OF THE AMERICAN NATURALIST MOVEMENT": FIRST EDITION OF FRANK NORRIS' THE PIT
NORRIS, Frank. The Pit. A Study of Chicago. New York: Doubleday, Page, 1903. Octavo, original gilt-stamped red cloth. $450.
First trade edition of the powerful second volume in Norris' unfinished trilogy—"the best fictional study of the Chicago Board of Trade" and a defining work of American Naturalism—published soon after his sudden death in October 1902.
Frank Norris and Stephen Crane represent "the first wave of an American naturalist movement" (Cambridge Companion, 154). They were "the first American naturalists to treat the city, and their responses to it reflected the complex national view of urban America" (Oxford Handbooks, 323). The Pit, published the year after Norris' early death, is the second novel in his unfinished trilogy, "The Epic of the Wheat," which began with The Octopus (1901). "Clarence Andrews calls The Pit the best fictional study of the Chicago Board of Trade. But as Floyd Dell points out, the real attraction of this best-selling novel of 1903 was Norris' capacity for seeing and his reporting instinct, which amounted to genius" (Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, 387). "The apparently anarchic behavior in the pit inspired Norris to describe the scene just as the opening bell is rung: 'Instantly a tumult was unchained, arms were flung upward in strenuous gestures, and from above the crowding heads in the Wheat Pit a multitude of hands, eager, the fingers extended, leaped into the air… as the traders surged downward to the Centre of the Pit'" (Abolafia, Making Markets, 38). Albert Bigelow Paine early praised The Pit for realizing, in its theme and focus, "the touch of a master" (Bookman, February 1903). First edition, second printing with uncorrected "burnng" (82:16). Copyright page without "First Edition": with "Published February, 1903," printer's device of "J.J. Little." Without very scarce dust jacket. Preceded by the same year's publisher's presentation edition of 25 copies. BAL 15038.
Text fine, lightest edge-wear to bright gilt-stamped cloth. A handsome about-fine copy.