DOUGLAS, Norman (1868-1952). South Wind. London: Martin Secker, 1917.
8o. Original brown cloth, gilt-lettered on spine (a bit shaken and worn, illustration [probably from a later dust jacket] mounted on front pastedown). Provenance: Ralph Straus (1882-1950), prolific British novelist and biographer (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION, THE VIRTUAL DEDICATION COPY, WITH A LENGTHY INSCRIPTION BY DOUGLAS TO RALPH STRAUS on the front free endpaper: "To his friend Ralph Straus, If I had known, my dear fellow, that you cared so much for this lille Bible-story, I should have dedicated it to yourself. You have had a narrow escape. Try to be more careful, in future." In fact, the book is without a printed dedication, making this presentation copy one of great literary significance. Douglas continues: "I ought to tell you that no characters in South Wind are drawn from life save Mr. Parker and his lady, who showed me so much kindness on one occasion that I felt obliged to do something, however little, to prove my gratitude. I was particularly anxious that the lady should recognize her portrait (which she did!) and know that I had not forgotten her. That blackguard Secker refused to send me revised proofs. Hence certain mistakes of which I have corrected a few in this copy. What is still more horrible--he cut down my original fifty chapters (I am nothing if not symmetrical) to forty; God knows why. I have marked on the margin how they ought to be numbered. I had heaps more things to tell you--for instance, that the natural scenery of South Wind is not Capri at all, but Ischia and Ponza, with a little of the Lipari islands thrown in--but I swiftly can't write on this kind of paper. Try it yourself. Yours ever, Norman Douglas." Ralph Straus was a novelist and authority on 18th-century publishing, and he had reviewed South Wind enthusiastically in the Bystander.
CORRECTED BY DOUGLAS ON NO MORE THAN 83 PAGES. Douglas's authoritative chapter divisions completely reorganize the text. These went unrecognized until 1946, when the fourth English edition followed the text as Douglas originally intended, but only, as he admitted, "from memory" (Woolf, Norman Douglas, p.97). By then, Secker is said to have made the unauthorized reduction, because of "an existing or threatened paper famine."
South Wind was Douglas's witty spoof of the English expatriate community of Capri (Nepenthe in the novel) and was hailed as a masterpiece on publication. Amazingly, most editions since 1946 retain the "horrible" forty chapters which Douglas repudiated. In addition to the restored divisions, Douglas has entered at least 41 literal corrections or alterations. Thirty of these are incorporated into the 1987 Penguin edition with an introduction by Norman Lewis, but eleven are ignored. A HIGHLY IMPORTANT COPY. Connolly, The Modern Movement 28; Woolf, Norman Douglas A19.