Item #15477 THE JOY OF LIVING (Es Lebe das Leben). A Play in Five Acts. Edith Wharton.

THE JOY OF LIVING (Es Lebe das Leben). A Play in Five Acts.

By Hermann Sudermann. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1903. Original dark grey-green paper-covered boards decorated in gilt.

First (and only) Edition in English, first (American) issue but with title page dated 1903 rather than 1902. Wharton agreed to translate this play only reluctantly, perhaps drawn by a topic she would later express in her own novels: the plight of a woman who is unhappy in her marriage due to her love for another man. In her Translator's Note, she indicates that she had to exercise some creativity in her task, because "to English and American spectators the long German speeches are a severe strain on the attention"; this is perhaps why Wharton's bibliographer Garrison lists this play as one of Edith Wharton's works -- and in fact, she is sometimes referred to as the co-author of the play.

Garrison lists a first Scribner printing published in October-November 1902 (and so dated) -- followed in April 1903 by more copies of this printing issued as the first British edition, with a 1903 Duckworth cancel title leaf. The next Scribner printing after that, according to Garrison, was not until 1907; yet this is a copy with an integral Scribner title page dated 1903 -- a state not cited by Garrison. If we had to guess, we would say that in late 1902, Scribner printed up both 1902-dated copies and 1903-dated copies -- a common publisher's ploy designed to make a book continue to appear "new."

Like some of Edith Wharton's other early books (THE GREATER INCLINATION (1899), THE TOUCHSTONE (1900) and CRUCIAL INSTANCES (1901)), this book was unfortunately bound in dark grey-green paper-covered boards rather than in much sturdier cloth; as a result, none of these books has survived well. This, however, is a fine, bright copy. See Garrison A7.1.a. Item #15477

Price: $175.00

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