THE BLACK RIDERS, and other lines
Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895. First Edition. Hardcover (issued without a dust jacket). Original plain buff boards, printed paper spine label; 12 mo. One of 50 copies on Japan vellum printed in green ink, bound in green thread, of an edition of 550. Crane's first regularly published book, the first using his own name. This limited edition it is generally speculated was issued after the success of The Red Badge of Courage which was most likely published shortly after this collection; both were written at the same time and on the same subject, War - his great theme. Leaves unopened. Spine label only lightly worn, spine barely darkened, corners ever so slightly bumped, a beautiful copy; custom cloth box with chemise, leather label. An exceptional copy in every way. Provenance: Frank Fletcher (bookplate) – Jane Engelhard (her Cragwood, NJ estate bookplate). Stallman A2b. BAL 4070; Kraus 20a, Copeland & Day 20a. Near fine. Item #15642
This book despite its small printing was quite widely reviewed, including by William Dean Howells in Harper's (he had earlier praised MAGGIE). Not all saw him as Howells did (he had compared Crane to Tolstoi). The New York Tribune (from which Crane was fired in 1892) took umbrage at his irregularity of form, Munsey's Magazine was the most succinct: "one of the newly heralded geniuses..., one of the fads among a certain class". In fact it was a very radical and still under appreciated book: radical in line and form (Crane calls them "lines", not "poems", as if they were lines he had written for a newspaper); in book design; and in its typography - printed entirely in caps. Paul Auster in his book on Crane BURNING BOY (2021) calls him “the first American modernist, the man most responsible for changing the way we see the world through the lens of the written word”.