KEROUAC, Jean-Louis Lebris de ("Jack," 1922-1969). The Town and the City. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1950.
8o. (Few insignificant foxmarks on preliminaries, a pale dampstain at extreme lower right corner.) Original red cloth, gilt-lettered on front cover and spine (a bit worn and shaken); pictorial dust jacket (few short splits along joints, few chips at edges). Provenance: Music Corporation of America (label with typed title and Kerouac's name pasted to front free endpaper); Joyce Glassman Johnson (presentation inscription; her note on front pastedown).
FIRST EDITION OF KEROUAC'S FIRST BOOK. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY KEROUAC TO HIS LOVER JOYCE JOHNSON on the front free endpaper: "To Joyce with love from Jack (or John)." ADDITIONALLY INSCRIBED BY JOYCE JOHNSON on the front pastedown: "3/23/94. Before I met Jack Kerouac, I worked for the MCA Literary Agency and for Phyllis Jackson who had briefly been Jack's agent but had been unable to sell his work. I found this copy of The Town and the City on a shelf and took it home with me. In September 1957, Jack signed it. Joyce Johnson."
A VERY IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION: On a blind date set up by Allen Ginseberg, Joyce Johnson (then Joyce Glassman) met Jack Kerouac in 1957, nine months before he received immediate success with the publication of On the Road. Glassman was an adventurous 21 year old and Kerouac, at 35, was about achieve international acclaim. In her 1983 memoir, Minor Characters, Johnson details how she came to acquire this copy of Kerouac's first book. Noting a photograph of him she'd seen, she writes: "He looked wild and sad... I remembered the man with the dark, anguished face and the name that was unlike anyone else's, the harsh music of its three syllables. Soon afterward I found it on a book at the office. A battered copy of The Town and the City was on the shelf where they put things that weren't active anymore. I asked what it was doing at MCA, and was told it was the work of a talented but very terrible person who had briefly been handled by the agency. He had grown more and more enraged and unreasonable as his various novels proved impossible to place. Sometimes he seemed under the influence of alcohol--or worse, probably. Then one day an equally crazy Mr. Ginsberg had turned up without an appointment, demanding the return of the three manuscripts and announcing that he was Jack Kerouac's agent. Good riddance!... I asked if I could borrow Jack's book. I took it home and never brought it back" (p.119).
Their on-again, off-again relationship lasted several years, mainly in the form of correspondence, due to Kerouac's perapetetic nature. Kerouac inscribed this book at the time of On the Road's publication (see next lot).
10,500 copies of the first edition were issued on 2 March 1950. According to the publishers, 15,000 copies were printed, but only 10,500 copies bound. Charters A1a.