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AGEE, James.

The Morning Watch.

Published: Rome: Botteghe oscure, 1950

Stock code: 106970

Price: £2,750

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First edition, first printing. Presentation offprint, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “For Albert Brush, with warmest regard and esteem, Jim Agee, June 6, ’54”; an offprint of the novella as it first appeared in the literary journal Botteghe oscure, VI. The recipient, the enigmatic Santa Monica poet Albert Brush, travelled in bohemian circles in Greenwich Village in the 1920s. He was in Paris in the early 1930s and spent most of his life moving in the artistic circles of Southern California; he appears briefly in the biographies of figures such as Christopher Isherwood and Charles Laughton. In the later 1930s he helped write Laughton’s famous English adaptation of Bertold Brecht’s Life of Galileo. In 1954, the time of this inscription, Agee was finishing work with Laughton on the screenplay of The Night of the Hunter (1955); it was presumably Laughton who introduced the two. Agee’s novella, with its 12-year-old protagonist and atmosphere of foreboding religiosity, shares a number of themes with his screenplay for Laughton’s celebrated film.

Octavo. Original buff wrappers, title to front cover in black. Faint spotting to wrappers, front hinge starting at head but text block sound, contents lightly toned. A very good copy.

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