Item Details

Turandot and other poems with four drawings by Jane Freilicher.

New York: Tibor De Nagy Gallery, 1953. First edition of Ashbery’s first book. One of 300 copies printed under the supervision of the artist Nell Blaine. Kermani A1. Presentation copy, inscribed on the title-page “To John B. / John Ashbery / 11/20/53 / ‘What is it that you do,’ I said, / ‘And how is it you live?’ / The answer trickled through his head / Like water through a sieve.” Ashbery is here quoting four lines from “The Poem” by The White Knight from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, a poem which is deliberately – and deliberately confusingly – referred to by different names and which plays on the philosophical concept of “use-mention distinction”. There is an angular ink mark pointing out where a space was omitted between two parts of the poem “Turandot”, presumably by the poet. The recipient was John Baxter Black, a classmate of Ashbery’s at Harvard. A fine copy of this fragile pamphlet with a few nicks and tiny closed edge-tears in wrappers. 8vo, original decorated stitched wrappers with printed paper label on front cover.

Price: $5,000.00

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