New York: Signet Books, 1954. First edition thus. Inscribed by the author to his Signet publisher: "To Kurt Enoch with my best wishes; sincerely yours Richard Wright Paris May 8, 1954." Signed in the month of publication by Wright after he had expatriated to France. A Very Good copy with some wear and cracking at the spine.
Considered an important reflection on racism and criminal behavior in American literature, The Outsider tells the story of a man’s failed attempt to recreate his identity and begin a new life in Harlem. Yet the social limitations and isolation imposed on his as a result of his race are inescapable. “Cross Damon represents the twentieth century man in frenzied pursuit of freedom. Cross is an intellectual Negro, the product of a culture that rejects him…the search for the absolute compels him to four murders and ends in his despair and violent death…[the novel] elicits the feel of the chaotic twentieth century—frustration, confusion, and paralysis in thought, all the terrible panic of a man in a shaken world” (Hughes).
Provenance: From the library of Kurt Enoch, who founded the New American Library and subsequently its Signet and Penguin imprints, and who in the late 1940s invented the mass market paperback, bringing the work of many great authors to a vast and entirely new readership. Very Good (Item #2044)