"A SINGULAR AMERICAN VISIONARY": FIRST EDITION OF COLOR OF DARKNESS, 1957, JAMES PURDY'S FIRST PUBLISHED WORK OF ELEVEN STORIES AND THE NOVELLA, 63: DREAM PALACE, SIGNED BY HIM
PURDY, James. Color of Darkness. Eleven Stories and a Novella. (New York): New Directions, (1957). Octavo, original half gray cloth and black paper boards, original dust jacket. $700.
First edition, first printing of the first complete published work of James Purdy—acclaimed for "dialogue reminiscent of Hemingway… he can do more with a whisper than most fiction writers do with a shout"—signed on the title page by him, this scarce volume featuring his breakthrough novella together for the first time with eleven short prose works including two never before published, preceded only by separate private printings issued in wrappers and an English edition of only nine stories and the novella, in the original dust jacket.
There is a "genuinely strange, unsettling and indelible" quality to Purdy's writing… he saw Hawthorne and Melville, 'two other Calvinists,' as his literary antecedents, and it is not hard to interpret some of Purdy's protagonists as latter-day incarnations of Billy Budd and Young Goodman Brown" (New Yorker). To author Jerome Charyn, Purdy "invented a poetic dreamscape where evil and naiveté collide" (Newseek). In his complex, haunting novels and short prose, he proved "himself a writer of considerable power and impressive originality" (Time). Acknowledged "a singular American visionary" (New York Times), Purdy is widely considered "a 'writer's writer,' he earned the praise of such diverse talents as Lillian Hellman, Marianne Moore and James M. Cain… to say nothing of Edward Albee, Dorothy Parker and Gore Vidal," who called him an "authentic American genius" (NY Journal of Books).
Purdy, who died in 2009, wrote "dialogue reminiscent of Hemingway… [he] can do more with a whisper than most fiction writers do with a shout" (Virginia Quarterly Review). John Waters, in his introduction to a 2013 volume of Purdy's short prose, writes that he has "been dead center in the black little hearts of provocateur-hungry readers like myself right from the beginning." First edition, first printing: with no statement of edition or printings on the copyright page. Containing the novella 63: Dream Palace and eleven short stories by Purdy: featuring the first appearance in print of the title story, "Color of Darkness," and the story, "You May Safely Gaze." Preceded only by the previous year's Don't Call Me by My Right Name containing nine stories (included herein), and 63: Dream Palace: each privately printed and issued only in wrappers by "Osborn Andreas, a businessman with a penchant for Henry James" (Guardian) and by Purdy's friend Jorma Sjoblom. An English first edition issued the same year combined the nine stories and 63: Dream Palace: without the two stories appearing here for the first time.
Trace of rubbing, tiny closed tear to rear panel of bright dust jacket. A handsome about-fine signed copy.