Paris: Printed by Three Mountains Press for Contact Editions, 1923. Quarter Leather. Very Good binding. Item #6348
Octavo. -79, (1) pp. First edition; limited and numbered 296 of 300 copies printed; some, as this copy, have the printed publisher's label for Contact Editions tipped over the Three Mountains Press. Signed by Williams on the first blank. Later binding, backed in green levant and paper over boards with title in gold on the spine. Quite a lovely binding. Top corner of the front board is a trifle bumped; "July 24, 1928" is penciled below Williams's signature; on the same leaf are stamped two cryptic 3-digit numbers and the book label of Marynia F. Farnham an American psychiatrist most known for co-authoring Modern Woman: The Lost Sex (1947), an antifeminist critique of women in the workplace. An inked number on the title page; offsetting to the first and last leaf (likely the original flyleaves); textblock is lightly toned throughout as is common.
A notable early work from one of the great American writers and issued like so many important literary works of that time from a small but significant American press in Paris. William Bird founded the Three Mountains Press in the 1920s and worked closely with Robert McAlmon's Contact Editions not long after opening. Bird was responsible for publishing and/or printing numerous major literary works of the era including several works by Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford's Women and Men, Robert McAlmon's Distinguished Air, William's The Great American Novel, and perhaps most notably, Hemingway's second and defining work, In Our Time. In fact, Pound edited the series of six short prose works that included this present novel and Hemingway's, In Our Time. Pound solicited Williams's work for this series about which he wrote in a letter to Williams that the "point of the thing [would] lie in its being really interesting." Williams's novel was that. While he later referred to it as a "satire on the novel form," his bibliographer contended that "it could be described as an attempt to explore," using Williams's own word, "the background of American life" (Wallace). An important work in its own right, The Great American Novel is also rooted in the culture of expatriate artists that Gertrude Stein named the Lost Generation. Bird's press was integrally connected to the burgeoning Modernist movement in Paris which would define a generation of writers and influence generations that followed. An important work signed by one of the great writers of the 20th century. Wallace A6a.