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Vintage book famous Porgy by Du Bose Heyward, First Edition 1925, classic African American literature, inspired acclaimed Porgy & Bess Opera

Vintage book famous Porgy by Du Bose Heyward, First Edition 1925, classic African American literature, inspired acclaimed Porgy & Bess Opera

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Overview

  • Vintage item from the 1920s
  • Favorited by: 4 people
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Description

There is no other book like this one.

So some people might only know of this book from its relation to the much-more-talked-about book Porgy and Bess. That's okay, I'll just tell you about this one and why you should buy it just as much as you should buy that book. :)

Porgy is the title character and protagonist of this book just as much as he is of Porgy and Bess, which is likely clear, but that means he was born in this novel. So, if you have any interest in him or his story, or the world-famous play and following opera based on this book (which introduced Bess into the title), then you should absolutely start here--the character's origin story.

And, not to mention, it is the literary debut of a profound southern writing talent who was working as an insurance agent at the time, Du Bose Heyward.

Porgy is for one, interestingly based on a real man Heyward knew in Charleston, South Carolina named Samuel Smalls, a crippled street-beggar in the run-down segregated black tenements of the city in the 1920s. Written in 1925, Porgy was a novel apropos of the time and place, and only when it became a play two years later in 1927 did it get the international press it deserved. Immediately, however, its critical acclaim was apparent even in novel form--in this form. The play, it should be noted, is when the title was changed to distinguish the work from the novel, into Porgy and Bess. The theatre version was written by the author together with his wife, Dorothy Heyward, herself a playwright, at the same time George Gershwin was reportedly looking to create an opera from the novel, too. So even before the play had been finished and up and running and receiving all its acclaim, the opera was in the works.

And so you know how powerful a story it must be. I can tell you myself that it is. I wish I could see Porgy and Bess (the play, as I am unfamiliar with operas, though I'm sure that is good too) myself. It should also be noted the opera took nearly eight years before it was released in 1935 by Gershwin and Heyward, which I like to think means that the story was so profound and important in that time, that it was that hard to put to music, that hard to make into something equally meaningful in another medium. Gershwin knew he was playing with star material, this story of Porgy, and so you should know the level of literature that you are reading when you pick up this book (as I hope you do end up doing, and buying it to own it for yourself, this special book).

It is a first edition though it is lacking its identifying dust jacket, somewhere lost to time, and that means when you pick it up you are reading it just as it was set and read by thousands of others in 1925. You are seeing and experiencing what other people saw and experienced in the work, and so you are seeing and experiencing the birth of a literary masterpiece, an old-time bestseller that didn't know it would be a bestseller when it was put out like this, hoping to find and connect to an audience. Grossest and Dunlap didn't know, Du Bose Heyward didn't know, and George Gershwin certainly didn't know as he hadn't heard of it, so what you're buying here is the time-stamped debut of Porgy, both book and character.

I'll give you some basic plot points, and a quote from the book to gain your interest if you aren't already interested, though I can't see how you couldn't be! With musicals and plays and films these days nearly all being adapted from novels (note: Porgy and Bess the play was then made into a film by the same name as well) such as Gregory Maguire's Wicked or the sensational tv show Game of Thrones, this switching around of entertainment mediums would interest many people just for that fact: why is this story good enough to take on in so many different ways? Why should I care?

Well, here's why.

Our poor Porgy is dirty and unloved, living just along the line of starvation for both food and human connection. He then trusts his fate, his ultimate fate--life itself, and life's meaning and journey--to pure chance and some indeterminate God or gods that may be watching him, if anyone is, caring about him, if anyone does. He then meets Bess, and pursues her romantically and with a fervor born of only the type Porgy and a man in his situation can muster, and though he sees success in love and in life, that is hard-won and tested violently, passionately, and in a way that transcends the story and sticks in your mind and heart.

That's why.

Here's the first paragraph of the book:

"Porgy lived in the Golden Age. Not the Golden Age of a remote and legendary past; nor yet the chimerical era treasured by every man past middle life, that never existed except in the heart of youth; but an age when men, not yet old, were boys in an ancient, beautiful city that time had forgotten before it destroyed.

In this city there persisted the Golden Age of many things, and not the least among them was that of beggary. In those days the profession was one with a tradition. A man begged, presumably, because he was hungry, much as a man of more energetic tempera-ment became a stevedore from the same cause. His plea for help produced the simple reactions of a generous impulse, a movement of the hand, and the gift of a coin, instead of the elaborate and terrifying."

Don't you want to see what happens to Porgy in this supposed Golden Age? Don't you want to go there yourself and poke around, see what the city was like back then, what it was really like? I do.

I hope you do too.

And here's the straight information you may be looking for:

-Full title: Porgy
-Author: Du Bose Heyward
-Format: First Edition, hardcover, black and white illustrations throughout, cover engraved with pink-on-black title, author and owl symbol, as well as lower right corner engraved peacock symbol with "G & D" for Grosset and Dunlap (the publishers). No dust jacket.
-Condition: That great vintage-book feel, with aged pages growing brown, and fraying at the very top of the spine, but binding intact and no notes or writings inside.
-Publisher: "Grosset and Dunlap, Publishers, by arrangement with George H. Doran and Company"
-Copyright: 1925 Du Bose Heyward
-Date published: 1925
-Provenance: I picked this up for its name, which seemed like a funny sounding word to me, but the more I looked through it (and about it on my iPad) the more I was tempted to buy it. The story seemed like absolute necessary reading for me, being a big fan of James Baldwin, and I was glad to find it lived up to what I believed it would be. I got it in a random pile of books, completely unmarked or in any order, in a bookstore that had a small "plays" section and had put it there by accident, believing it was "Porgy and Bess," since this is not a play. This was October 2016.
-Pricing: I priced the book this way considering first editions of it are relatively few online, (and all are very pricy), though it is missing its dust jacket. These two components combined make it worth a lot, but worth much less than any copy with the preserved original dust jacket. There are a few other copies (one is pink, one is black but with a yellow title not a pink one) that are also considered first editions, because they were all printed in 1925, but so was this one, so they are all seemingly considered first editions (the issue is murky and research is hard to come by, no definitive answer) and it is not stated otherwise. Also because this is a major work in African American literature and history in general, and its condition is very good, I came to a price that worked with these details.
There is no other book like this one.

So some people might only know of this book from its relation to the much-more-talked-about book Porgy and Bess. That's okay, I'll just tell you about this one and why you should buy it just as much as you should buy that book. :)

Porgy is the title character and protagonist of this book just as much as he is of Porgy and Bess, which is likely clear, but that means he was born in this novel. So, if you have any interest in him or his story, or the world-famous play and following opera based on this book (which introduced Bess into the title), then you should absolutely start here--the character's origin story.

And, not to mention, it is the literary debut of a profound southern writing talent who was working as an insurance agent at the time, Du Bose Heyward.

Porgy is for one, interestingly based on a real man Heyward knew in Charleston, South Carolina named Samuel Smalls, a crippled street-beggar in the run-down segregated black tenements of the city in the 1920s. Written in 1925, Porgy was a novel apropos of the time and place, and only when it became a play two years later in 1927 did it get the international press it deserved. Immediately, however, its critical acclaim was apparent even in novel form--in this form. The play, it should be noted, is when the title was changed to distinguish the work from the novel, into Porgy and Bess. The theatre version was written by the author together with his wife, Dorothy Heyward, herself a playwright, at the same time George Gershwin was reportedly looking to create an opera from the novel, too. So even before the play had been finished and up and running and receiving all its acclaim, the opera was in the works.

And so you know how powerful a story it must be. I can tell you myself that it is. I wish I could see Porgy and Bess (the play, as I am unfamiliar with operas, though I'm sure that is good too) myself. It should also be noted the opera took nearly eight years before it was released in 1935 by Gershwin and Heyward, which I like to think means that the story was so profound and important in that time, that it was that hard to put to music, that hard to make into something equally meaningful in another medium. Gershwin knew he was playing with star material, this story of Porgy, and so you should know the level of literature that you are reading when you pick up this book (as I hope you do end up doing, and buying it to own it for yourself, this special book).

It is a first edition though it is lacking its identifying dust jacket, somewhere lost to time, and that means when you pick it up you are reading it just as it was set and read by thousands of others in 1925. You are seeing and experiencing what other people saw and experienced in the work, and so you are seeing and experiencing the birth of a literary masterpiece, an old-time bestseller that didn't know it would be a bestseller when it was put out like this, hoping to find and connect to an audience. Grossest and Dunlap didn't know, Du Bose Heyward didn't know, and George Gershwin certainly didn't know as he hadn't heard of it, so what you're buying here is the time-stamped debut of Porgy, both book and character.

I'll give you some basic plot points, and a quote from the book to gain your interest if you aren't already interested, though I can't see how you couldn't be! With musicals and plays and films these days nearly all being adapted from novels (note: Porgy and Bess the play was then made into a film by the same name as well) such as Gregory Maguire's Wicked or the sensational tv show Game of Thrones, this switching around of entertainment mediums would interest many people just for that fact: why is this story good enough to take on in so many different ways? Why should I care?

Well, here's why.

Our poor Porgy is dirty and unloved, living just along the line of starvation for both food and human connection. He then trusts his fate, his ultimate fate--life itself, and life's meaning and journey--to pure chance and some indeterminate God or gods that may be watching him, if anyone is, caring about him, if anyone does. He then meets Bess, and pursues her romantically and with a fervor born of only the type Porgy and a man in his situation can muster, and though he sees success in love and in life, that is hard-won and tested violently, passionately, and in a way that transcends the story and sticks in your mind and heart.

That's why.

Here's the first paragraph of the book:

"Porgy lived in the Golden Age. Not the Golden Age of a remote and legendary past; nor yet the chimerical era treasured by every man past middle life, that never existed except in the heart of youth; but an age when men, not yet old, were boys in an ancient, beautiful city that time had forgotten before it destroyed.

In this city there persisted the Golden Age of many things, and not the least among them was that of beggary. In those days the profession was one with a tradition. A man begged, presumably, because he was hungry, much as a man of more energetic tempera-ment became a stevedore from the same cause. His plea for help produced the simple reactions of a generous impulse, a movement of the hand, and the gift of a coin, instead of the elaborate and terrifying."

Don't you want to see what happens to Porgy in this supposed Golden Age? Don't you want to go there yourself and poke around, see what the city was like back then, what it was really like? I do.

I hope you do too.

And here's the straight information you may be looking for:

-Full title: Porgy
-Author: Du Bose Heyward
-Format: First Edition, hardcover, black and white illustrations throughout, cover engraved with pink-on-black title, author and owl symbol, as well as lower right corner engraved peacock symbol with "G & D" for Grosset and Dunlap (the publishers). No dust jacket.
-Condition: That great vintage-book feel, with aged pages growing brown, and fraying at the very top of the spine, but binding intact and no notes or writings inside.
-Publisher: "Grosset and Dunlap, Publishers, by arrangement with George H. Doran and Company"
-Copyright: 1925 Du Bose Heyward
-Date published: 1925
-Provenance: I picked this up for its name, which seemed like a funny sounding word to me, but the more I looked through it (and about it on my iPad) the more I was tempted to buy it. The story seemed like absolute necessary reading for me, being a big fan of James Baldwin, and I was glad to find it lived up to what I believed it would be. I got it in a random pile of books, completely unmarked or in any order, in a bookstore that had a small "plays" section and had put it there by accident, believing it was "Porgy and Bess," since this is not a play. This was October 2016.
-Pricing: I priced the book this way considering first editions of it are relatively few online, (and all are very pricy), though it is missing its dust jacket. These two components combined make it worth a lot, but worth much less than any copy with the preserved original dust jacket. There are a few other copies (one is pink, one is black but with a yellow title not a pink one) that are also considered first editions, because they were all printed in 1925, but so was this one, so they are all seemingly considered first editions (the issue is murky and research is hard to come by, no definitive answer) and it is not stated otherwise. Also because this is a major work in African American literature and history in general, and its condition is very good, I came to a price that worked with these details.

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FAQs

Absolutely! I'm willing to do anything to get this book to you, but I will not write on it. If it is not in the condition you want, I know preservation techniques and will certainly oblige as best I can. You just need to let me know.
I will wrap the book any way you want. It is special and so are you, you deserve it! I will also write cards, include photographs, anything you'd like that would make this transaction more, well, you.
I won't tell you how to care for your book, but as to how they are cared for now, they are housed in two places -- some are wrapped in plastic in my main room in the part of the house that used to be a quaint B&B, lined on lovely old wooden bookshelves; others are stacked in piles or leaning on cool, creative and different bookends all round the room, and all are given care, attention, and kept away from my dog :)

Others sit in my library, in built-in authentic 1800s wooden and glass-door library shelves that line the walls in a secluded room in a historic home on the shore. With vintage, warm lamplights over the tiny marble fireplace, the library's windows catch plenty of sunlight--the books are in good homes and will arrive undamaged.
If the book comes later than expected this does not mean it was sent late. Every book is sent within 1-3 business days, unless one of the days is a Sunday, then it could be an extra day. This applies to International orders as well, but they might take longer to get to you than in-country orders. If there is a problem, please bring it up with UPS or see Etsy's policies.
I am more than willing to hunt down a specific book for you. This can take time, however, and would be a matter of personal back-and-forth on the site so you would have to keep in contact. There is no guarantee. I'm good at finding things however, and if I cannot find it to sell to you myself I will direct you to where I can find it online, if I can.

Important to note, however, that I may have it in my holdings already so it ALWAYS helps to check in with me. Listings come up continually, and it may just be waiting here to get processed and put up.
Contact me directly via the site and I will do my absolute best to help correct it. There should be no problems.
Always willing to make new friends and take on new jobs or opportunities -- this business does not stop me from working a full or part time job, and I am currently looking, so please contact me! Dempseylynch@gmail.com. I am definitely interested in talking with you and love meeting new people (especially book lovers of course).
Sure! Although the books are priced the way they are and are worth that amount based on a lot of factors (condition compared to others available online, if there are any available online or if it is the only one, age and whether it is signed or special in some way, etc.) I am always willing to hear you out as to why you think the books price is off, and work with you as best I can. I cannot guarantee the price will change, that is bad for my business, but I will listen to you. Don't be afraid to reach out. The worst that can happen is I will say no.

I put the reasons behind my pricing method for each item at the end of the listing so check that out if you're curious too :)

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