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Sleeveless Errand

by James, Norah C

5th printing

Price: $100.00
from: ReadInk

  • Seller Inventory #: 19415
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Book condition: Near Fine in Very Good dj
  • Edition: 5th printing
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Place: New York
  • Date published: 1929
  • Keywords: London, Suicide, Adultery, Banned Books

New York: William Morrow & Company. Near Fine in Very Good dj. 1929. 5th printing. Hardcover. [bottom corners bumped, otherwise a tight clean copy with no significant wear; jacket is the Grosset & Dunlap (later printing) issue, worn along bottom edge with various small tears and associated creasing, a couple of white scrape marks at front hinge, long vertical crease at edge of front flap]. "At the same table in a London coffee-shop sit a man and a woman. The man has just discovered that his wife is unfaithful, and is meditating suicide. The woman, Laura, whose lover has just thrown her over, is determined on the same thing. The man follows her when she goes out -- to her apartment. The rest of the book is a history of their next thirty-six hours." A notorious novel of its day, it was (per the jacket blurb) "recently banned and confiscated in London" (under the Obscene Publications Act); the following year, it became the first book published by Jack Kahane's newly-established Obelisk Press in Paris, and its brisk sales help to get the fledgling firm off to a good start. According to a contemporary critic quoted on the rear jacket blurb, "Miss James knows her neurotic society of modern London and she portrays it with a veracity that creates shudders of apprehension and pity in the reader." The censors certainly seem to have been apprehensive, but there seems to have been very little pity involved in their judgment that the book contained “conversations by persons entirely devoid of decency and morality” and that “blasphemy is freely indulged in by all the characters, and filthy language and indecent situations appear to be the keynote.” The Irish-born author wrote more than a dozen more novels during the 1930s, but any momentum for a "literary" career that she might have gotten from this book seems to have rapidly dissipated, and eventually her name became associated almost exclusively with the numerous potboilers she turned out in the romance genre, at least through the 1960s. Today, however, she is so thoroughly forgotten that she doesn't even rate a basic Wikipedia page (the new measure of cultural obscurity in our society). .