London: Oxford University Press, 1959. Pocket volume, measuring 6 x 3.5 inches: xvi, 364, . Original blue blindstamped boards, spine lettered in black, original unclipped dust jacket printed in red and black. Signed by Robert Penn Warren on the title page. Printed Oxford UP slip laid in: “With the Publisher’s Compliments.” Lightest rubbing to head of jacket spine panel.
First edition, publisher’s presentation copy, of this midcentury collection of American men (and only men) of letters, signed by contributor Robert Penn Warren. Editor Harold Beaver construes “American” broadly, “not interpreting the word by place of birth or parentage only, but also by passport and length of residence,” a decision that allows him to include W.H. Auden’s essay on Henry James. Warren’s contribution surveys the whole of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha fiction: “he writes of two Souths: he reports one South and he creates another.” Other essayists include R.P. Blackmur, Cleanth Brooks, Van Wyck Brooks, Richard Chase, Malcolm Cowley, Horace Gregory, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Harry Levin, F.O. Matthiessen, H.L. Mencken, Ezra Pound, Philip Rahv, I.A. Richards, Allen Tate, Lionel Trilling, Austin Warren, Edmund Wilson, Yvor Winters, and Morten Dauwen Zabel. A fine copy of a literary time capsule, published at the height of the New Criticism.