Modern Literature from Ken Lopez Bookseller
By Michael Stillman
From Ken Lopez Bookseller we have catalogue number 144, Modern Literature (with a Special Native American Section). Lopez offers a wide selection of literary works from the 20th century, mostly the last few decades, some as recently published as last year. Most are first editions, or even pre-publication copies, with an occasional early typed manuscript, and a few ephemeral items such as personal letters. There are also many signed copies of the works offered.
The Native American section is unusual in that we see many catalogues with books about native peoples, a few recounting their histories and legends. It is rare to find a selection of literary works written by Native Americans, but Lopez has succeeded in gathering a group of such works. Here are some of the items being offered in this latest catalogue.
Rachel Carson wrote what may be the most significant book of the modern environmental movement in "Silent Spring," first published in 1962. However, her interest in environmental issues long precedes that date. Item 28 is a booklet she had published by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1948, Guarding Our Wildlife Resources. This is one of her more rare early books. Lopez's copy bears the stamp of Charles Teague, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California, serving ten terms until his death in 1974. Priced at $350.
Item 168 is a most fascinating letter from novelist Vladimir Nabokov, best known for "Lolita." Dated August 28, 1960, it was written to Doubleday editor Pyke Johnson, Jr. Nabokov returns a $2,500 advance for the novel "Pale Fire," and asks to be freed from the contract. He notes that he had written a year earlier to say he decided to indefinitely postpone the writing of this novel, and that "nothing new has happened since with respect to this matter, and I am not sure that I shall ever go back to the book I had been planning under this title." There is also a letter from Johnson, releasing Nabokov "with regret." Lopez notes the intriguing point that in his bibliography, Michael Juliar Nabokov says that Vladimir Nabokov worked on "Pale Fire" from 1959-1961. This novel was published by Putnam in 1962. It certainly makes Nobokov's letter look something less than forthright, but it is not certain that he did not co-opt the "Pale Fire" title for a different book than the one he was "planning under this title" for Doubleday. $5,000.
Item 169 is a copy of the first American edition, first impression, of Pale Fire, as released by Putnam in 1962. Lopez states that this copy is in fine condition with a fine dust jacket, as good a copy as he is likely ever to see. $500.