All Quiet on the Western Front. Translated from the German by A.W. Wheen.
REMARQUE Erich Maria (1929.)
Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.
First English edition. 8vo., original buff buckram, dust jacket. London, G.P. Putnam's Sons.
With two important and previously unrecorded documents relating to the publication of the English edition.
The first is an important two-page ALS from the author dated 10th March 1929, from the Grand Hotel Curhaus, to an un-named recipient, who may be G.H. Grubb of Putnam, regarding the translation, in which he gives Herbert Read a much more prominent role than do the conventional accounts. "I wrote to Mr. Read to authorise him to change any strong language or phrases if he thinks that this would do harm to the publiction in England and America. The same goes for the Lewandowsi field hospital scene. It may be better to leave it out if there is the possibility that the book might be confiscated. The book is more important than the scene." He concludes unambiguously "The translation by Read and Wheen is excellent". Read and Wheen were close friends and colleagues at the Victoria and Albert Museum at the time and Read published the most widely quoted review of the English edition, in The Criterion, but appears to be nowhere credited with a hand in the translation.
The second is an 8-page ALS (in German, early translation by a German speaker supplied) from the journalist and statesman Egon Wertheimer (also known as Ranshofen-Wertheimer) to G.H. Grubb of Putnam's London office, telling the story of the book's English publication. By Wertheimer's account, he had only read the first two instalments of the book's serial publication, when he realised its importance, and determined to have the book published in England. He describes the process of deciding on offering it to Putnam: firstly the imagist poet F.S. Flint, is an old friend of his and translates for Putnam, secondly he admired how they had revived the career of Ludwig George, and thirdly he liked their image: "Putnam, I came across, was balanced, not high-brow, but also not quackery; just the thing, which would me, as common reader, induce to buy the book". He then tells the extraordinary story of cold-calling the firm, and delivering the manuscript (still untranslated) early in the afternoon to Putnam's, to be telephoned by their Mr. Huntington the very next day to say that they "... wished to acquire the book. I was touched rather (deeply affected, strangely moved) by the fact that no businesslike (commercial) considerations induced (incited) Mr. Huntington in the course of that conversation to diminish the impression the book had made on his reader." Hilton Tims in his biography of Remarque speaks of the "many versions of the chain of circumstances that turned an unsolicited manuscript into one of the publishing sensations of the twentieth century - and just as many claimants to the honour of "discovering" it.
An excellent copy in dust jacket, chipped at the head and tail of the spine and enclosed in a protective folding box.
Stock Code: 133012