Paris: Contact Editions/Three Mountains Press, 1925. First edition. 925 pp. Thick large octavo. Red buckram, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, original wrappers not bound in. One of 500 copies, printed by Darantière, of which 100 sets of sheets were sent to Boni for the American edition. Spine sunned, some uneven toning to boards. Contents clean and tight.
Stein’s magnum opus, originally written between 1906 and 1911. Stein was in several discussions to have "the long book" published, with Grant Richards and Benjamin Huebsch among others, but the war shut down any further attempts. In 1923 Hemingway arranged to have the work serialized in Ford Madox Ford's Transatlantic Review. Further discussions with publishers ensued, with talks breaking down due primarily to the book’s length. Ultimately Robert McAlmon's Contact Editions agreed to publish it, in association with William Bird's Three Mountains Press. Stein's relationship with McAlmon soon deteriorated, and the book was never widely distributed or read; by the end of 1926 only 74 regular copies had been sold and paid for. Donald Gallup notes that "its publication could hardly have been attended by more numerous and varied misfortunes." Several readers were attuned to its peculiar frequency, however- John Malcolm Brinnin wrote, "For the life of a literary generation this book would languish unpublished and unread. When, finally, it would be published and republished, it would stand clearly as the enormous cornerstone of a long submerged yet always viable career." He went on to say, "it would become nothing less than a boundless parable history of America with all its open-sky restlessness and migrations, its riches, ambitions, and its enormous middle-class vitality." Marianne Moore, in an early review, said "this sober, tender-hearted, very searching history of a family's progress, comprehends in its picture of life which is distinctly American, a psychology which is universal." A cornerstone of modernism. Wilson A6a. See Gallup, "The Making of The Making of Americans," and Ford, Published in Paris, pp. 56-68. Item #2076