PRANCING NIGGER. Ronald Firbank, Carl Van Vechten, novel, introduction.

PRANCING NIGGER

New York: Brentano's Publishers, 1924. First Edition. Firbank's first book published in the United States, a novel of West Indian life and manners. It was the first of his works that wasn't entirely self-financed, and despite the miniscule print run, the book was given a lavish treatment by Brentano's, published with a generous introduction by Carl Van Vechten, who was intent on making Firbank's work better known in America. Understandably, the inflamatory title roused an outcry in the African American press, though Nancy Cunard wrote a defense of Firbank and his use of the name in the Associated Negro Press, and the novel received a surprisingly positive review by W.E.B. Du Bois:

"American Negroes will neither read, nor if they read, understand Ronald Firbank's "Prancing Nigger." In the first place they will condemn it unheard and unseen on account of its title just as they condemned the finest play in favor of the Negro yet written, Sheldon's "The Nigger." Those who bring themselves to read the book will not understand it because it is West Indian. Its whole setting and surrounding is in those beautiful exotic islands which we here so thoroughly misunderstand. But if the reader can forget its title and translate himself to the palms and glorious sunlight of the southern islands and look upon Mr. Firbank as an artist and not a nordic propagandist they can have a delightful hour with this delicious book. In it the writer is unbound by convention, white or black...The whole book is just a delightful revel..." (Review of Prancing Nigger, 1924, held by UMass Amherst). In its day, it proved to be Firbanks's most popular work, outselling all his previous novels. Benkovitz A10a. Item #5383

First Printing, one of ca.300 copies, preceding the UK edition titled Sorrow and Sunlight by eight months. Octavo (19.25cm); black cloth, with titles stamped in gilt on spine and front cover; hunter green topstain; dustjacket; [ii],xii,126pp, with pictorial frontispiece by Robert E. Locher. Trivial rubbing to cloth at lower front cover, sublte offsetting from flaps onto endpapers, else a fresh, Fine copy. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $2.00), with two tiny nicks, and two tiny tears, else a bright, Fine example.

Price: $850.00