HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Men Without Women. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1927.
8o. Original black cloth, printed gold labels on front cover and spine; dust jacket (one shorts closed tear on front panel, slightest age-toning to spine panel, otherwise very fine). Provenance: Eric Knight, friend and author of children's classic Lassie Come Home (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY TO ERIC KNIGHT, INSCRIBED BY HEMINGWY WITH A LIVELY REFERENCE TO DASHIELL HAMMETT in pencil on the front free endpaper: "For Eric Knight remembering a fine evening we spent listening to Mr. Dashiell Hammett tell us not to be mugs-get the money-that's all that means anything-Get the money-that tall white haired drink of contented cowpiss-the talented cheap bastard-Why don't you get the money Eric Knight? You're too good a guy-that was the trouble-Ernest Hemingway."
Men Without Women was Hemingway's second book of short stories, after Three Stories & Ten Poems (1923); and for a collection of short stories, it sold extremely well-over 15,000 copies in three months. The collection included some of his best short stories, including "Fifty Grand," The Killers," "The Undefeated," "Hills Like White Elephants," "Today is Friday," and "Now I Lay Me."
In a letter to Fitzgerald soon after the book was published, Hemingway wrote: "How the hell are you? What do you think of Men Without Women as a title? I could get no title, Fitz, run through Ecclesiastics though I did. But the boys, principally Kipling had been there before me and swiped all the good ones so I called the book Men without Women hoping it would have a large sale among the fairies and the old Vassar Girls" (Selected Letters, p. 260).
Hemingway most likely inscribed this copy to Eric Knight during a drunken evening in New York in 1931, when Knight came up from Philadelphia to do an article on Hemingway (Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway, New York, p. 223). The British-born Knight lived and worked for most of his life in America. He is best known for his classic children's book Lassie Come Home, published in 1940, which was made into a film starring a young Elizabeth Taylor in 1943.
A rivalry between Hammett and Hemingway continued for years; critics claimed with some frequency that Hammett (along with Raymond Chandler and the whole school of "hard-boiled" writers) borrowed heavily from Hemingway's style. According to Lillian Hellman in An Unfinished Woman (1969), Hammett could be rather scathing about both Hemingway's writing and his personal life. At a party at Dorothy Parker's in the summer of 1937, Hellman describes a drunken Hemingway hurling a highball glass against the stone fireplace. "Fitzgerald turned to bolt, but Hellman held his arm and pulled him into the kitchen, where she whispered to her great and good friend, Dashiell Hammett, 'Please help Mr. Fitzgerald. He's frightened of Ernest and the glass throwing didn't help.' In a splendid non-sequitur, Hammett replied, 'Ernest has never been able to write a woman. He only puts them in the books to admire him.'" (Lynn, p. 452). A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY. Hanneman A7a.