The Black Riders and Other Lines.Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895 Stock Code: 117295
NotesFirst edition, deluxe issue, one of 50 copies printed in green on japon. The Black Riders is first book of poetry by Stephen Crane (1871-1900), famous for his novels such as his acclaimed Civil War tale The Red Badge of Courage, published in the same year as this collection. Crane was a prolific writer of poetry, though only in private at first, writing five or six poems a day. In 1894 he showed some of these to American writer Hamlin Garland (to whom his book is dedicated), who read them "with growing wonder". With Garland's encouragement, Crane secured publication from Copeland & Day, though not without a struggle which delayed publication until around the same time as The Red Badge of Courage, Crane's verses being highly unconventional for the time in their lack of any consistent rhyme or metre. Perhaps the best in the collection is: "In the desert / I saw a creature, naked, bestial, / who, squatting upon the ground, / held his heart in his hands, and ate of it. / I said, 'Is it good, friend?' / 'It is bitter-bitter,' he answered; / 'But I like it / because it is bitter, / and because it is my heart.'" There is some bibliographical debate as to whether The Black Riders was published just before or just after The Red Badge of Courage; Stallman cites broken type and an April 1896 advertisement in The Bookman to support his claim that this issue appeared on the heels of The Red Badge of Courage, Joe Kraus, in his bibliography of Copeland and Day, locates page proofs dated March 1895, putting it before. If the latter is so, then as well as being Crane's first poetry collection, it is also his second published book and the first book published under his own name, following his pseudonymously published first book, Maggie.
A typed slip laid-into this volume, gives auction records from the 1920s (then making as much as 220), and observing: "Next to the very scarce Maggie in wrappers, Vincent Starrett, in his Bibliography of Crane says that 'The Black Riders' on vellum is the most difficult item to find. Of the 50 copies, probably not more than half of them are still in existence".
Duodecimo. Original japon boards, title label to spine. Housed in a blue morocco backed slipcase and chemise.
From the library of Estelle Doheny, with gilt morocco bookplate to the front pastedown. A fine copy.
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