29 June 2005
MASTERS, Edgar Lee (1869-1950). Spoon River Anthology. New York: Macmillan, 1915.
8o. (Minor pale dampstain on a few lower margins.) Original pale blue cloth, decorated in gilt and black; quarter morocco slipcase.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, measuring exactly 7/8 in. across the top. SIGNED BY MASTERS on the front free endpaper (dated 12 May 1924), AND WITH A LENGTHY HOLOGRAPH POEM BY MASTERS on the half-title and facing page. The 37-line poem is entitled "Elliot
Hawkins," and begins: "I Looked like Abraham Lincoln. I was one of
you, Spoon River, in all fellowship, But standing for the rights of
property and for order..." The poem appears on p. 152.
Spoon River Anthology contains Masters' free-verse poems presenting a series of realistic, candid epitaphs, in which some 250 people buried in the cemetery of a small Middle Western town reveal the essence of their secret lives. Masters was a lawyer who started his career as a partner to Clarence Darrow in Chicago. The unexpected publication of Spoon River Anthology, which was preceeded only by legal articles on constitutional law and some anonymous poems, brought great attention to Masters. He quit his practice and moved to New York, but never achieved the success of Spoon River Anthology with any of his later works.
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