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tremendous presentation copy of Look Homeward, Angel

WOLFE, THOMAS. (English) Look Homeward, Angel

New York: Scribner’s, (1929)

Original black cloth. Light wear to extremities, rear inner hinge broken, else very good. Half morocco case.

FIRST EDITION. A splendid presentation copy of Wolfe’s first regularly published book, inscribed: “To my sister, Mabel, I present this copy of my first book, with love, and with remembrance of the long way we came together. Thomas Wolfe, Oct 15, 1929.” The publication date was October 18.

This autobiographical coming-of-age story is one of the great American novels of the first half of the twentieth century. Look Homeward, Angel‘s treatment of the people of Asheville and his own family led to the author’s estrangement from many in his hometown.

Mabel, ten years older than Tom, acted as a surrogate mother for her brother. He wrote of Mabel in a letter in 1925, “She is fierce, tender, angry, biting, caressing, by turns … Strong commonplace people drink her vitality like wine … The simple and terrific fact is that with all her fuming, fretting, weeping, and love of adulation, I have never seen her do a selfish thing. … She has more greatness in her than any woman I’ve ever known. I suppose honestly, that’s why I sometimes get tired of the women I meet.” Mabel closed her boardinghouse and moved to Seattle to care for Wolfe during his final days. She was with him when he died at age thirty-seven.

Mabel was the model for Eugene Gant’s older sister Helen in the novel. “Helen … a tall thin girl, with large hands and feet, big-boned, generous features, behind which the hysteria of constant excitement lurked. The bond between the girl and her father grew stronger every day …” “Her face was full of heartiness and devotion, sensitive, whole-souled, hurt, bitter, hysterical, but at times transparently radiant and handsome” (Look Homeward, Angel).

This is one of the most desirable copies of this classic novel imaginable.