New York: Macaulay Company, 1929. First edition, inscribed presentation copy. Hardcover. SIGNED. 262pp. Octavo [19.5 cm] Brown cloth with title stamped in black on the front board and backstrip. Professionally recased and rebacked, with the majority of the original spine overlaid. Covers professionally cleaned and polished. Corners of covers skillfully restored. Hinges discreetly reinforced. In a custom made clamshell. Very good. Item #60859
A nice presentation copy from Wallace Thurman (1902-1934), who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. This copy is inscribed to silent film actor and film director James Cruze. Cruze (1884-1942), a giant in the day of silent films, was born in Ogden, Utah, to a Mormon family. He is responsible for directing or producing close to 100 films, including his masterpiece The Covered Wagon. Unfortunately, Cruze did not adapt well to the advent of sound in the film industry, and he died with just a handful of dollars in his pocket.
In Down in the Dumps: Place, Modernity, American Depression, the author Jani Scandura quotes Wallace Thurman as writing the following to playwright and producer William Jourdan Rapp in June 1929: "'Met James Cruze, who is quite anxious to see a script of Harlem..'" Scandura goes on to further quote Thurman as writing, "'[Cruze] Has long wanted to do a first class colored movie and showed me countless stories he has considered. He wants to star Evelyn Preer, which is alright by me so long as he buys the movie rights...'"
Inscribed by Thurman on the front free endsheet. Inscription reads: "To James Cruze - / In anticipation of / another story being / especially written / for submission to him / Sincerely, / Wallace Thurman". Signed copies of Thurman's works are uncommon and scarce in regards to this title. Thurman's first published novel offers a frank portrayal of prejudice within the black community, and was divisive among the public and critics alike. Thurman was already fairly well known within the "Harlem Renaissance", but the publication of this work would announce his talents to a wider audience, and would help to cement his reputation as a writer who would take on unpopular (and sometimes uncomfortable) subjects.
An important presentation copy from a highly influential author to a prominent film director, both with Utah ties.