Tortilla Flat (Inscribed First Edition)

Tortilla Flat (Inscribed First Edition). John Steinbeck.
Tortilla Flat (Inscribed First Edition)
Tortilla Flat (Inscribed First Edition)
Tortilla Flat (Inscribed First Edition)
Modeled on the Arthurian legends of knights of Camelot, an important early work.
Tortilla Flat (Inscribed First Edition)

New York: Covici Friede, 1935. First edition. Octavo. Original beige cloth, spine lettered in blue, single horizontal rule continuing across boards, top edge blue. With the pictorial dust jacket, price-clipped. Housed in a custom blue quarter leatherette slipcase and matching chemise (slipcase worn). Illustrated bookplate of Jean Hersholt to front pastedown, signed by him in ink below; his library label to inside of chemise, hand-numbered "S. 28"; bookseller label to rear endpaper, "Gelber Lilienthal Inc., San Francisco". Inscription along gutter of front free endpaper in ink reading "2760 1935 [? illegible]"; likely referring to a former library identification system, sometime bleached in an attempt to lighten the writing. Spine gently bruised, a couple faint marks to top edge of book block. A markedly bright, clean copy in the faintly toned jacket, spine browned, else the blue lettering and illustrations remaining fresh, two small, neat tape repairs to top edge verso, a few marks. 8 full-page black-and-white illustrations by Gannett, 13 smaller illustrations in the text. First edition, first printing, cloth issue, inscribed by the author "For Bob Bailey John Steinbeck" on the front free endpaper. This copy is from the library of Jean Hersholt (1896-1956), a Danish-American Hollywood actor known for his role in Heidi and for his impressive collection of Anderseniana, which represented possibly the largest collection in America of Andersen's work. Another book inscribed to Bob Bailey by Steinbeck, The Pastures of Heaven (1932), was also part of Hersholt's collection, and was sold at his sale at Parke Bernet in 1954. Bailey remains an untraceable recipient; it is possible that, given Hersholt's film career and Steinbeck's close involvement with the work of various Hollywood studios, he is the American radio and movie actor Bob Bailey (1913-1983).

Steinbeck’s vivid and joyous portrayal of the residents of Tortilla Flat, set in Monterey, California. The book was modeled on the Arthurian legends of knights of Camelot, a story that had seized Steinbeck’s imagination since he had been a child. Tortilla Flat was the first book Steinbeck wrote that received both warm reviews and good sales and was referenced by the Swedish Academy when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. It was also adapted into a 1942 film, starring Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr. “Mr. Steinbeck tells a number of first rate stories in his history of Danny’s house. He has a gift for drollery and for turning Spanish talk and phrases into a gently mocking English. The book is consistently amusing…” (Contemporary New York Times Review)

Of the first edition, 4,000 copies were issued in hard cover beige cloth and 500 in wrappers: "no evidence has been found that these copies in wrappers actually precede the hard cover issue" (Goldstone and Payne A4a). Goldstone and Payne A4b.
Fine in Near Fine dust jacket. (Item #3076)

Price: $27,000