LITTLE CAESAR. W. R. Burnett.

LITTLE CAESAR

New York: Lincoln Mac Veagh / The Dial Press, 1929. First Edition. Burnett's first novel, a hard-boiled classic charting the rise and fall of a Chicago gangster against a backdrop of political and social turmoil. The title character, Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello, was based, in part, after real-life Chicago gangster Al Capone, who experienced a similar rise and fall. The novel was released in 1929, the same year that Knopf published Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest; while Hammett's tough-guy legacy was cemented by introducing readers to the Continental Op, an argument can be made for Burnett's novel having a more enduring cultural relevance. With the release of Mervyn LeRoy's 1931 pre-code crime film, Edward G. Robinson's role as Rico would cement Burnett's character as the most imitated gangster figure in 20th century cinema, and the film's box-office popularity spawned a host of similar gangster films over the coming decades. A Haycraft-Queen cornerstone, and a rarity in this condition; a survey of jacketed copies in the trade reveals the lame, blind, and halt, with the auction record revealing badly-worn copies with cracked hinges, deep chips, or heavy restoration (the last copies in comparable condition to ours were sold in 1978 and 1970 respectively). A superb copy of the archetypal gangster novel. Hubin, p.58; Pronzini & Muller, pp.101-102. Item #2573

First Printing. Octavo (19.5cm); navy blue cloth, with titling and publisher's logo stamped in yellow and in blind to spine and front cover; dustjacket; [viii],[2],3-308pp. Spine ends gently nudged, upper corner of rear board gently tapped (though still sharp), else very Near Fine and clean throughout. Dustjacket designed by Irving Politzer is unclipped (priced $2.00), mild, even toning to panels, with four short tears along upper edge (the longest being 7/16"), and a tiny tear to lower rear flap fold; a Near Fine, unrestored example. Housed in a custom clamshell case by the Faenwyl Bindery.

Price: $17,500.00

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