A COLLECTION OF THREE LIMITED EDITIONS: THE EMPEROR JONES. [and] THE HAIRY APE. [and] STRANGE INTERLUDE.
(New York: Boni and Liveright, Horace Liveright, 1928, 1929). 267 x 197 mm. (10 1/2 x 7 3/4"). 90 pp.,  leaf (colophon); 114 pp.,  leaf (colophon); 4 p.l., 298 pp.,  leaf (blank),  leaf (colophon). Three separately published works in three volumes. Each work ONE OF 775 COPIES (750 of these for sale) SIGNED BY O'NEILL; FIRST EDITION of "Strange Interlude."
First two works in publisher's patterned cloth backed with black buckram, both with pictorial dust jacket and in (somewhat worn) publisher's slipcase with paper label; "Strange Interlude" in publisher's stiff vellum over bevelled boards, with original tissue dust jacket and (very worn and crudely repaired) original paper slipcase. First two works with 17 illustrations (eight in "Emperor Jones," nine in "Hairy Ape") by Alexander King, as called for. Top of "Ape" dust jacket spine neatly replaced, "Interlude" vellum quite spotted (as almost always with this book), tissue jacket of "Interlude" rather torn and creased, otherwise very well preserved: the printed jackets generally clean and fine, and the volumes themselves unworn and internally without significant signs of use.
This is a pleasing group of signed limited edition copies of three ground-breaking plays by the only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The story of a railway porter who becomes the oppressive dictator of a West Indian island, "The Emperor Jones" (1920) was the play that made O'Neill (1888-1953) famous. In it, O'Neill begins to demonstrate the innovations Day considers his great contribution to American theater: "naturalism, expressionism, modern psychology, previously forbidden themes, and previously unknown plumbing of psychic and spiritual depths." It makes great use of the soliloquy, one of O'Neill's favorite devices: in six of the eight scenes, Jones is the only character who speaks. "The Hairy Ape" (1922) deals with issues of belonging and alienation, revealing O'Neill's sympathy with the laboring class oppressed by the wealthy and privileged elite. O'Neill won his third Pulitzer Prize in eight years for "Strange Interlude," an experimental play that was, in Day's words, "a surprisingly popular success although its nine acts consume five hours." Its story of a 20th century Everywoman touches on the issues of promiscuity, abortion, insanity, and adultery (the controversial content perhaps explaining some of its popularity). This grouping is intended to provide an opportunity to acquire three signed copies of important American plays at an advantageous price. (ST12731a)