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WEST, Rebecca.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.

The Record of a Journey through Yugoslavia in 1937.

London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd, 1941 Stock Code: 124556
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"One of the supreme masterpieces of the 20th century"

First edition, first impression, inscribed on the half-title of volume I: "With much gratitude to Yvonne Ffrench from Rebecca West, 1942". Inscribed copies are far from common, this set offering a pleasing association with a recognised woman writer.

Ffrench was the author of well-received biographies of Sarah Siddons, Mrs Gaskell, Ouida, and Florence Nightingale, together with a number of works of Victorian history including a study of the Great Exhibition, but was certainly better known in her day as a connoisseur of, and dealer in Old Master prints.

"After five years of marriage West was again ready for independent travel. Her opportunity came via the newly formed British Council, which sent her as a lecturer, first to the Baltic states, and then to Yugoslavia. Though she endured sexual harassment and serious illness in Yugoslavia, West returned twice to collect material for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), her account of Yugoslav culture under threat of eradication by Germany" (ODNB). Reviewed at the time as a "brilliant mosaic of Yugoslavian travel" (New York Times), and "A masterpiece, as astonishing in its range, in the subtlety and power of its judgement, as it is brilliant in expression" (The Times), Black Lamb and Grey Falcon continues to be included in lists of the greatest travel and non-fiction works of all time. In his introduction to the 2006 reissue, Geoff Dyer draws attention to West's realisation that the best travel writing in fact addresses "the state of the writer's own soul at that moment", judging the book to be "one of the supreme masterpieces of the 20th century".

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2 volumes, octavo. Original vivid green cloth, titles gilt to spines, single fillet panel to front covers, map endpapers printed in red and black. With the dust jackets, printed in red and black on cream hammer finish stock, both unclipped.


32 photogravure plates from photographs.


Free endpapers differentially browned from the presence of the jackets, which are a little rubbed, spines lightly tanned and with a few minor splits and chips, but overall a very good set.


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