19 June 2007
[NABOKOV, Vladimir (1899-1977)]. NABOKOFF-SIRIN, Vladimir (1899-1977). Despair. London: John Long, 1937.
8o. Original orange cloth, lettered in dark brown (some minor dust soiling, top- and fore edge slightly spotted); pictorial dust jacket (upper panel with 1-in. chip affecting a small portion of the "D," light chipping to ends of spine panel). Provenance: S.E. Phillips (owner's signature on front pastedown).
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH, WITH THE RARE DUST JACKET, of what is perhaps the scarcest of the author's titles and his first "serious attempt to use English for what may loosely be termed an artistic purpose". It was first published serially in Russian in 1934 in Sovremennye Zapiski. (Nabokov translated the novel himself and the preceding quote is taken from his introduction to the 1966 New York edition.) Unfortunately the book sold very poorly with most of the publisher's stock remaining in a warehouse until destroyed by German bombing during the war. Thus, even copies without a dust jacket are by no means common. Only one other copy in dust jacket has appeared at auction in the last 20 years. The bibliographer Michael Juliar, in the supplement to his bibliography, records one copy in this variant orange cloth. There is no priority established, according to Juliar. Juliar A15.2.
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