GREY, ZANE. 1872-1939.
Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Zane Grey"), in pencil, 513 pp, legal folio, n.p., , being Grey's original draft of The Vanishing American written on lined notepad paper, with an additional 33 pages numbered 403-435 being a draft of a revised ending, pages mildly toned, very light thumbing, chip to margin of one page, title page with three corners bumped, otherwise fine, housed in custom chemise and clamshell case.
ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT OF GREY'S CLASSIC WESTERN, THE VANISHING AMERICAN, WITH AN UNPUBLISHED DRAFT OF AN ALTERNATE ENDING. The novel was inspired by Grey's sympathy for the plight of Native Americans, and by his admiration for Native American athlete Jim Thorpe. The story is set in contemporary Arizona, where the protagonist, Nophaie, the son of a chief, is taken away from the tribe and educated among whites. When he returns to the reservation as an adult, he finds his tribe controlled by corrupt missionaries and government agents. Nophaie escapes the reservation by enlisting in the army to fight in the World War; when he returns, he finds that his tribe has been wiped out by the influenza epidemic, and soon he too contracts the disease. He strikes out for the desert and is healed spiritually and emotionally by communion with nature.
When the novel was serialized in The Ladies Home Journal in 1922, it received a firestorm of criticism from readers over its unflattering depiction of the missionaries and government agents on the Indian reservation, and the miscegenation between the main character, an Indian, and his white fiancée, the schoolteacher Marian. Grey was devastated by the criticism, and Jesse Lasky, who was producing a big-screen version of the story, was, over time, able to convince Grey to modify the story by condensing the villainous missionaries and government agents into one character. Meanwhile Harper's delayed publication of the novel version until the screen version was ready, and also insisted on changes to the story. The 1925 published version of The Vanishing American still contains some criticism of the mistreatment of the Indians by church and government officials, though greatly reduced from the earlier version; the main character, Nophaie, also dies in the revised version, rather than marrying his fiancée.
In addition to the original 1922 handwritten manuscript, the lot also includes 33 pages of a revised draft, 20 pages of which comprise AN ALTERNATE FINAL CHAPTER WHICH DIFFERS SIGNIFICANTLY FROM THE 1925 PUBLISHED VERSION. Whereas Nophaie dies in the published version, in the present draft he is shot during a confrontation at Presbrey's trading post, which has been burned to the ground (it is spared in the published version). However, Nophaie recovers from his wounds, and he and Marian resolve to marry and move back East.
The Vanishing American remains one of Grey's most popular and enduring stories; it is likely the last major Grey manuscript in private hands.