HEMINGWAY, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925.
8o. Original gilt-decorated black cloth (spine rubbed). Provenance: Eric "Chink" Dorman-Smith (1895-1969), Hemingway's confidant and closest friend of his adult life (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION. A SUPERB ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED TO HEMINGWAY'S LIFE-LONG FRIEND on the front free endpaper: "To Chink with Hommages Respectueus from his former A.D.C. and still, with the occasional permission of His Brittanic Majesty, companion--Popplethwaite Paris, October, 1925." This volume contains sixteen short stories alternating with sixteen of the eighteen vignettes that made up the 1924 Paris edition of in our time. The other two of the 1924 vignettes appear here as "The Revolutionist" and "A Very Short Story."
Hemingway was bitterly disappointed by how few copies of In Our Time (1925) sold within the first two months of publication, considering that the majority of respected critics had judged the book a masterpiece: Ford Madox Ford was not alone in proclaiming Hemingway "the best writer in America at this moment (thought for the moment he happens to be in Paris), the most conscientious, the most master of his craft, the most consummate..." Hemingway blamed the commercial failure on Boni and Liveright, who "had made up their minds in advance that it was not worth while trying to sell a book of short stories whether anyone wanted to buy it or not," as he told Harold Loeb on the day he completed The Torrents of Spring, the "cold-blooded contract-breaker" that would free him from Liveright.
Captain Eric Edward Dorman-Smith was Hemingway's confidant, hero and first and closest friend of his adult life. An Irish officer in the British Army, he met the 20-year old Hemingway, then recuperating at the Officer's Club in Milan, on Italian Armistice Day, November 3, 1918, and christened him "Shamus O'Popplethwaite." Hemingway saw in Dorman-Smith the embodiment of the classic thinking man of action, and incorporated two of his friend's war anecdotes into in our time (1924), which was dedicated to him along with Robert McAlmon and William Bird. In the early 1920s, Dorman-Smith spent his military leaves with Hemingway, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, fishing, bull-running, drinking, and most importantly, talking. Hemingway recalled their conversation in an early poem:
Always talking. Talking
of your trade and my trade and the Empire and people we
knew and bulls and horses, places we had been and plans
and projects and the necessity for money, overdrafts and how
to handle tailors, the Empire again and the great good in
drinking, shooting, and when drunk I boasted and you never
minded. (Meyers, p. 43)
In October of 1923, Hemingway made Dorman-Smith godfather to his first son, John ("Bumby") Hemingway; Gertrude Stein was the godmother. Hemingway and "Chink" remained close for years, and their letters, even into the 1950s, are peppered with an adapted kind of military-speak. Hemingway would call upon Dorman-Smith's millitary expertise in defending Across the River to Charles Scribner, claiming that he "has now read it three times ... He says he now knows it is the best thing I've written and made many sound, or seemingly to me sound, observations which I shall not repeat for modesty. Please don't worry about how a fighting officer talks or does not talk. I've heard it since I was 17 and Chink addresses me as My Dear General and former A.D.C. (joking of course. But I was his A.D.C. when he was OC. troops in Milan and I was a walk-out wounded with nothing to do. We went to all the great things together at Scala etc.)" (Selected Letters, ed. Carlos Baker, New York, 1981, p. 702). Connolly, The Modern Movement, 49; Hanneman 3a.