11 October 2002
HEMINGWAY, Ernest. The Torrents of Spring. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926.
8o. Original black cloth, stamped in red and blind; pictorial dust jacket (minor tape-repair on verso). Provenance Joan Whitney, grand-daughter of John Hay (presentation inscription; her bookplate; see her sale, William Doyle Galleries, 17 May 1984, lot 194).
FIRST EDITION of Hemingway's first novel. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY HEMINGWAY on the front free endpaper: "To Joan Whitney with very best wishes Ernest Hemingway." Joan Whitney was a social friend of Hemingway, who often hosted him at her Long Island estate.
By late 1925, Hemingway's reputation had been established primarily within literary circles. He had attributed the lack of general public recognition and the poor sales of his In Our Time to a restrictive contract with his publisher Boni and Liveright.
This short novel is a parody of the style of some of the writers of the day, in particular Sherwood Anderson and his recently published novel Dark Laughter (1925). Anderson was Boni and Liveright's most revered and best-selling author who dominated the literary scene at the time. And although Anderson was a friend and an early supporter of Hemingway (he wrote a fine endorsement on the dust jacket of In Our Time), he used Torrents to take aim at Anderson's "rather silly book" and test Liveright's loyalty. Hemingway had just completed the first draft of The Sun Also Rises, and was unwilling to chance his next book to the smae unpromising reception from his publisher.
The Torrents of Spring was begun in mid-November and completed by Thanksgiving. It was rejected by Boni and Liveright in equally as little time. "I have known all along," Hemingway wrote Fitzgerald, that the firm "could not and would not be able to publish it as it makes a bum out of their present ace and best seller Anderson" (Selected Letters, p. 183). With the contract broken, Hemingway flirted with Harcourt and Knopf before eventually signing with Scribner's.
Fitzgerald was very involved on both sides of the negotiation with Scribner's, and actively encouraged the prospect with his editor there, the great Maxwell Perkins. The Torrents of Spring, the book that Fitzgerald would call "the best comic book ever written by an American," was published by Scribner's on May 28, 1926; The Sun Also Rises followed five months later. Hanneman A4a.
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