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Turn About

FAULKNER, William A previously unknown Faulkner "A" item -- an offprint of this story from the March 5, 1932 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. Apart from this offprint, the story was not published separately until 1939, by W. L. Massiah of Ottawa, Canada. Not in Petersen, where Peter Howard of Serendipity Books, in the 645-page catalog of the Petersen collection, proclaimed the 1939 Canadian publication, A.21.2, to be "by far the rarest of Faulkner's published books." Howard priced that copy at $17,500 in 1992. Nonetheless, OCLC now shows 6 copies of the Canadian edition published by Massiah, but no copies of this offprint. "Turn About" was first published in the Saturday Evening Post, then collected in O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1932 and then in the Faulkner collection Doctor Martino and Other Stories. The text of the story in the book publications differs slightly from the magazine version: in the second paragraph of the original magazine story, the main character is described as having "a little dull gold mustache," a part of his description that is dropped in the later book publications. The Massiah publication and this offprint both have the mustache phrase, tying them to the original Post publication. In addition, the text of the Post story is broken into sections, numbered with Roman numerals. The Massiah publication has the sections, separated by a filigree; the book publications forego the sections altogether. This offprint is the only version, other than the original magazine version, that separates the text with Roman numerals. Petersen and Howard speculated that the Massiah edition had been based on tearsheets of the magazine. It is more likely that the Massiah edition was based on this offprint -- a stapled offprint being more likely to survive the intervening seven years intact than loose tearsheets. There is at least one place where a comma has been added to the 1932 O. Henry text, which did not appear in the original magazine or this offprint, again helping to date the offprint to approximately the time of the original magazine, and not to a point after it had been edited for a book. At the last appearance of the Massiah edition at auction, in 2010, Christie's wrote about it: "EXCEEDINGLY SCARCE: no copies have appeared at auction in at least fifty years, according to American Book Prices Current. Petersen did not have it at the time of his first book (1975) -- he first recorded it in his On the Track of the Dixie Limited in 1979 and it is in the Serendipity catalogue of 1991. Not in the Brodsky, Massey, University of Mississippi or University of Texas collections. Petersen A21.2." We can only add that this is even more true of this offprint, which until now has apparently remained totally unknown, and has not been in any of the great Faulkner collections, including all of the ones mentioned by Christie's. 28 stapled pages; one page corner turned; a handful of mostly marginal pencil markings ("x's"); near fine in stapled wrappers. Unless otherwise noted, our first editions are first printings.
  • $25,000
  • $25,000