Sunday, November 30, 2014

Penguin Modern Classics 5–American Classics

My modest collection of American writers published in the Penguin Modern Classics series begins with Ambrose Bierce’s ever popular Devil’s Dictionary. We could use some of his scepticism in these politically correct days.

William Faulkner is the next in alphabetical order, and I appear to have only his novel Sanctuary in the Modern Classics, though have another of his books in a standard Penguin edition.

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1971 edition – “Surprise in the House of Masks” by Facetti 1972 edition – “The Bar” by Bernard Perlin

The sublime, in my opinion, F. Scott Fitzgerald is well represented in my library and I have several in both Modern Classic editions and standard editions. The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourite books, and I consider it a perfect novel. No one writes party scenes with as much panache as Fitzgerald does.

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1968 edition – “Montparno’s Blues” by Kees Van Dongen 1967 edition – cover illustration by Virgil Burnett

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1968 edition – “Madame Bonnard” by Pierre Bonnard

A  lone Ernest Hemingway collection of short stories is all I have in the Modern Classics, but it has a great cover by Paul Hogarth.

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1964 edition – cover illustration by Paul Hogarth

Several of  the Penguins in my collection I acquired for the Literature course at University, and I recall Henry James’ Portrait of A Lady was one of the books on the curriculum. The others I no doubt purchased separately after taking a liking to his prose.

The ancient editions of Portrait of A Lady and Washington Square have cover illustrations by Philippe Jullian.

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1966 edition – cover art by Philippe Jullian 1965 edition – cover art by Philippe Jullian
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1966 edition – “Cup of Tea” by Mary Cassat 1966 edition – “Repose” by John Singer Sargent

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1969 edition – cover art by Atkinson Grimshaw

Next, three classic American novels - Jack Kerouac’s On The RoadJ. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men (& Cannery Row) by John Steinbeck.

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1972 edition – “The Athlete’s Dream” by Larry Rivers 1969 edition

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1973 edition – “Threshing” by Joe Jones

I have previously displayed the Berkley paperback editions of  the Edith Wharton novels in my collection. Below are two more published in the Penguin Modern Classics series.

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1979 edition – “Portrait of a Lady” by Frank Weston Benson 1974 edition – “The Misses Vickers” by John Singer Sargent

Finally for American classics, In The Money by William Carlos Williams.


1972 edition – detail from “Carnaval, 1924” by Francis Picabia

Coming up – Irish and Latin American modern classics

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