Literature, Poetry, Art and Photography from James S. Jaffe Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
We recently received the latest catalogue of New York bookseller James S. Jaffe Rare Books, Summer 2006. Admittedly, these are the waning days of summer, but there will be no fading of interest in the books within this collection. What you will find is primarily literature, poetry, and photography from the twentieth century, with a few going back to the century preceding. Most of the writers and photographers presented are names familiar to all, such as James Joyce, Walt Whitman, John Steinbeck, Dylan Thomas, William S. Burroughs, W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jack Kerouac, Robert Frost, Walker Evans, and many more. These are significant books, manuscripts, photographs and prints, and condition is usually exceptional. If this sounds intriguing, you would do well to obtain a copy of this catalogue. Here are a few samples of items being offered.
Pride and Prejudice is an early 19th century novel with both its defenders and its detractors. Originally written in 1796, author Jane Austen was not able to get it published until after the success of her later work "Sense and Sensibility." It focuses on the upper, though not always wealthy, classes of English society, and the importance of marriage to women of the era. Item 7 is a first edition of this popular work, including the rare half title, published in 1813. Priced at $75,000.
Jack Kerouac was the voice of the Beat Generation of the late 1950s, which in turn would usher in the counterculture of the 1960s. His On The Road was the voice of his generation. Item 37 is a first edition of this 1957 classic, complete with dust jacket. $10,000. Item 39 perhaps reflects Kerouac's reality even better. It consists of two autographed letters from Kerouac to New York bookseller Ted Wilentz, dated 1963 and 1964. They pertain to Kerouac's chronic shortage of money, despite his literary success. Wilentz was noted for helping out friends in need, and having friends in the literary world is generally the equivalent of having friends in need. In one, Kerouac writes, "Dear Ted, That was stupid of me to borrow from your cash box. -- Please excuse -- Never again. But thank you, for a much needed. I'm going back home & try to get well. Jack." In the second, Kerouac writes, "If you see Gregory Corso, which I doubt, tell him he owes me $10. Thanks again, Jack." Gregory Corso was a poet of the Beat Generation, and evidently, more financially challenged at the time than even Kerouac. Kerouac's letters are priced at $5,000.