"FOR ELIZABETH FOR CHRISTMAS!": PRESENTATION COPY OF CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN, INSCRIBED IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION BY MAURICE SENDAK TO HIS CLOSE FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR
(SENDAK, Maurice) TESNOHLIDEK, Rudolf. Cunning Little Vixen. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, (1985). Quarto, original green cloth, pictorial endpapers, original dust jacket. $850.
First trade edition in English, presentation copy, of this classic Czech animal story, wonderfully illustrated by Maurice Sendak, inscribed on a pictorial preliminary in the year of publication to Sendak's close friend and neighbor: "For Elizabeth For Christmas! Maurice Sendak Dec. '85."
Originally published as a newspaper serial by Rudolf Teznohlidesk, a journalist in 1920, this Czech novel was so popular that it was released as a book a year later. Its two main characters, a female fox named Vixen Sharp-Ears and a forester names Bartos, are poised at the center of a story that explores the relationships between human and animals in a world that rarely resembles a fairy tale. The story contains contains brutality and unhappiness, but also authentic emotion and its fundamental honesty has made it a Central European classic. Published the same year as a signed limited edition of only 250 copies. Hanrahan A123. The former owner of this inscribed book was Maurice Sendak's neighbor, Andrew, from Ridgefield, Connecticut. Sendak bought a home and studio in Ridgefield in 1972 with his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, and lived there until his death. Andrew first encountered Sendak in 1975 during one of his daily dog walks. (Sendak owned many dogs throughout his life, and they often starred in his books.) Andrew was immediately taken with Sendak, who reminded him of his recently deceased father. One day, Andrew called Sendak at home and asked if he could join him on his walks. Andrew and Sendak thus embarked on a 37-year friendship that also included the Andrew's mother, Betty, as well as Andrew's brother. Sendak went on long walks and hikes with Andrew and his family regularly, discussing general life events, opera, and books. He also invited them into his studio to show off works in progress. Andrew's mother, Betty, was an avid reader and collector and she and Sendak would talk late into the night about books. Sendak offered Betty advice about how to find and authenticate rare children's books, which she used to build her collection. Additionally, he frequently bartered for autographs (i.e. a cake for an inscribed drawing). In inscriptions, Betty is often referred to as "Elizabeth"; Sendak felt that her name was "common" and didn't suit her. The many inscribed drawings, along with first editions, signed books, limited edition books, and other valuable items grew into one of the country's premier Sendak collections.
A fine signed copy.