ROBINSON, Henry Morton (1898-1961)
American novelist, best known for A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake written with Joseph Campbell and his 1950 novel The Cardinal, which Time magazine called the year’s most popular book fiction or nonfiction. Robinson also served as senior editor with The Reader’s Digest.
THE CARDINAL – First Edition, 1950 Simon & Schuster, New York; hardbound; serviceable dust jacket. This was the number one best seller in 1950 and #4 best seller in 1952. It was brought to the screen in 1963 by Otto Preminger, starring Tom Tryon as Cardinal Stephen Fermoyle (Academy-Award nominated). Previous owner’s name on the front free endpaper, otherwise fine. Dust jacket a bit creased and moderately edge worn. There is a tiny puncture on the front panel and damp stain along the flap folds. The price $3.50 is present on the front flap. In Brodart archival dust jacket protector.
While a popular book at the time of its publication, a first edition with dust jacket in this state of conservation is rather uncommon. More significantly, perhaps, we have tipped in an important-content, two-page Autograph Letter Signed of author Robinson to historian-critic Louis Mumford on the publication of his 1944 opus The Condition of Man.
Letter is dated 24 May 1944. Reads, in part: …I meant to be among the first to praise your Condition of Man, but now I must take my place in the procession. Frank Morley (?) sent me an advance copy, and for several days I did nothing but swim in its depths. Your book is a terrific piece of work; even on the lowest plan of confession and arrangement, it is something to marvel at. I envy & congratulate you. I have always been one of your faithful readers (I believe I reviewed Brown Decade (1944) & Sticks & Stones (1924) for Commonweal when they appeared) but this latest book eclipses your previous work. You have expanded your theatre and taken on a …….. of thought not commonly encountered in this country of ours. I like particularly your last pages in which you advance the idea of the “balanced personality” as the solution of our machine-made ills. If that doesn’t work, we are sunk!
Robinson goes on to say that he tried to condense the last pages of yours for Reader’s Digest but his colleagues were having difficulties giving up their illusions about society. He mentions his home village of Woodstock, NY and says he has touted Mumford’s books to his friends and wishes the author continued success. Rarely does one encounter an important letter between two celebrated authors with this content.
This first edition is desirable as is the Autograph Letter Signed from one important 21st century author to another literary giant/social critic.