FAULKNER, William (1897-1962). The Marble Faun. Boston: Four Seas Company, 1924.
8o. Original green paper boards, printed paper label on cover and spine (lower portion of spine cracked along joints, spine slightly faded with its label a bit darkened, a touch of wear to extremities); quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: ANTIA LOOS, author (presentation inscription); William E. Stockhausen (his sale, part II, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 14 December 1974, lot 550, the recipient not identified); Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard (her sale, Christie's New York, 27 October 1995, lot 32).
PRESENTATION COPY OF FAULKNER'S RARE FIRST BOOK, INSCRIBED BY FAULKNER TO ANITA LOOS on front free endpaper: "To Anita, from Bill. 12 February 1925." and SIGNED again by him on title-page: "William Faulkner 12 February 1925" [both times Faulkner forgetting he was in a new year].
A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY. It was during his stay in New Orleans in early 1925 (the book had been published in December 1924) that Faulkner met the future author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (whose husband was a friend of the Sherwood Andersons). "Faulkner would straggle down to breakfast [at the Anderson house in the Vieux Carré], she [Anita Loos] remembered, carrying in his hand a glass of what she was sure was corn liquor. He would drink it before breakfast...She...remember[ed] his participating in one activity...Together they would mount the stone steps of the cathedral tower and climb to the belfry. There...they would order their liquor from a young priest, who was later unfrocked. But Anita Loos did not have much time herself for such pursuits...She was at work on a book about a young gold-digger who was firmly convinced that diamonds were a girl's best friend"--Joseph Blotner, Faulkner: a Biography (New York, 1975), I, p. 411. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was published to great acclaim later in 1925; see Selected Letters, ed. Blotner, p. 32, for a Faulkner letter to Anita Loos, dated "Something Febry 1926," praising "the Blonde book" and ending: "I wish I had thought of Dorothy first."
Four Seas agreed to issue Faulkner's collection of poems in 1923, provided he pay for the manufacturing costs (their standard arrangement). They offered him a royalty arrangement, but Faulkner declined to proceed, at the time not having enough money to carry the costs. Within six months, though, he'd received the encouragement and finanical support of Phil Stone and the twenty-seven year old Faulkner contracted for the printing of 500 copies of The Marble Faun. The book sold poorly and quickly was remaindered. No records survive detailing the number of copies Four Seas actually sold prior to disposing the stock on the remainder market, but an early estimate suggested 100 copies. William Boozer, in William Faulkner's First Book: The Marble Faun (Memphis, 1975), specifically located 56 copies. He considered the existence of other floating copies for a total of near 70, and has since found more, but his total is still short of the 100 copies initially assumed.
Though not often associated with poetry, Faulkner in fact considered it his first passion. As late as 1957, seven years after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, he confessed to a University of Virginia audience, "I wanted to be a poet, and I think of myself now as a failed poet. Not as a novelist but as a failed poet who had to take what he could do." FAULKNER PRESENTATIONS ARE NOTORIOUSLY SCARCE. Massey 743; Peterson A1a.