11 October 2002
BOWLES, Jane (1917-1973). Two Serious Ladies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943.
8o. Original brown cloth; pictorial dust jacket (slightest fading). Provenance: David Diamond (b.1915), American composer (presentation inscription; blindstamp on title; his signature on front free endpaper and a few pencil underlinings).
FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR'S MASTERFUL FIRST BOOK, PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED TO DAVID DIAMOND on the front free endpaper: "Dear David -- Forgive the spot of ink [below] -- I would love to see you of course -- call me around 6:30 tonight. Thanks for the sweet note and thanks for buying the book. Much love Jane." Two Serious Ladies has been heralded as one of the great American novels of the period, although its general readership has long been scant. In 1952, Bowles moved from Brooklyn to Tangiers with her then-husband Paul Bowles, composer and author of, among other books, The Sheltering Sky. Her small output--the present novel, a play and a volume of stories--are noted for their feminism and an oblique experimentalism influenced in part by Gertrude Stein.
David Diamond frequently collaborated with writers, setting to music poems by Agee, Cummings, even Marilyn Monroe, and he was an intimate friend of many literary figures, including Capote, Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers (who, with her husband, involved Diamond in a complex ménage-à-trois).
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