DUNNING, Ralph Cheever.

Rococo. A Poem.

With three drawings by Howard Simon.

Paris: Edward W. Titus, 1926 Stock Code: 149214
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First edition, first printing, number 495 of 500 copies only signed by the author on the limitation page and the artist under the first illustration. Laid in this copy is a rare, possibly unique original photograph of the author. This is a great copy with an excellent provenance.

Although unmarked as such other than a pencilled note by the previous owner renowned book dealer Martin Stone this copy is from the collection of the publisher Edward Titus which might explain the presence of the original photograph (Martin's note suggests it to be the only known photograph).

Ralph Cheever Dunning, dubbed "the living Buddha of Montparnasse" by fellow American expatriate Ford Maddox Ford, was a ghostly presence in critical, literary Paris in the 1920s. Ezra Pound joined others in championing his work, ensuring that the reluctant poet's work was published in major journals of the time, leading tohis winning the Helen Haire Nevinson Prize from Poetry magazine in 1925. More interested in writing poetry than in seeing it published, the reclusive opium addict appeared equally unmoved by critics and admirers. Dunning rarely ate and rarely spoke and when he did venture out, would be found in the noisiest cafés on the Left Bank, clutching a glass of warm milk and a book. Dunning's poetry reflected his own profound death wish, emphasising the fleetingness of life and death's permanency. That wish was fulfilled, aged 52, when weakened by tuberculosis, he simply stopped eating altogether.

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Tall octavo. Original cream paper-backed grey boards, spine lettered in brown, titles printed in black to blue paper label on front board, untrimmed.


3 mounted monochrome illustrations after Howard Simon.


Some wear to extremities, short split to foot of front joint, spine darkened and scuffed, peripherally sunned as often, the binding otherwise firm, usual toning to free endpapers, occasional small rust marks to gutters, else internally fresh; still, a very good copy.


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