THURBER, JAMES. 1896-1961.
This lot features a large collection of autograph manuscripts of author, playwright, and cartoonist James Thurber dating from the last five years of his life, and including the following:
1. 42 pp, folio, untitled Thurber alphabet project, covering the letters C,D,E,F,G,O and T: "Concerto in C, for Clavichord and Concertina ... caroler, chapel, chine, church, choir...."
2. 7 pp, folio, untitled manuscript fragment beginning: "In July 1995 the name of Geneva was changed to Geneve so that its letters could no longer be rearranged to spell 'Avenge.'"
3. 42 pp, folio, titled "Of Time and the Ocean," with partial transcription by secretary.
4. 65 pp, 4to, titled "The Little Girl," and beginning "I was 12 the summer my mother shot my father...."
5. 24 pp, titled "The Story," and beginning: "I can sometimes tell, watching and listening in a crowded room but ostensibly examining for cracks in the bowl of the unlighted pipe in my hand, what a man and a woman, too carefully casual, are making a covert arrangement to meet secretly somewhere late...."
6. 40 pp, 4to, untitled fragment beginning: "It is not true that acuity or hearing is increased by blindness...." Essay on language. In envelope with secretarial annotation "The Very Best But-Uh / Piece for Punch" and addressed to Thurber in type.
7. 26 pp, 4to, untitled playscript featuring characters named Lance and Blair.
8. 45 pp, 4to,untitled fragment beginning: "Our culture and civilization, if that's what they are, progress, if that's what they're doing, in a deepening mist...."
9. Approx. 94 pp, 4to, untitled fragments, beginning:: "I am so close to seventy now that I can taste it...."
10. 109 pp, 4to, partial playscript titled The Welcoming Arms dated October 13, 1956 and February 3, 1957, plus other unidentified manuscript material, together with 13 pp penciled transcription of The Welcoming Arms, dated December 5, 1958, in the hand of Thurber's secretary. The play seems to be a spoof of behind-the-scenes politics at the New Yorker, with one character deliberately based on Harold Ross.
Thurber's writing style is unusual, thanks to his limited vision. Writing in pencil on loose typing paper, his script is large and often illegible, and he averages 20-30 words per page. On certain drafts, his secretary has transcribed some of the most difficult words, but others are largely untranslated. While some of this work seems to have ended up in one published form or another, much of it seems to be unpublished works in progress.