New York: Doxey’s At the Sign of the Lark, 1901. First edition. Editioned no. 73 of 600 copies. 131pp. Original publisher’s black cloth binding with front panel stamped in yellow and red, spine stamped in yellow. Cover design by Harry B. Matthews, signed binding HBM. Gilt to top edge, deckled fore edge. Very good, cover illustration faded, boards worn at corners and spine tips, front inside hinge stressed. Previous bookseller and ownership marks in pencil to front free endpaper. Item #6339
Dedicated to the memory of Charles Baudelaire, this was Park Barnitz’s first and only book of poetry, published anonymously only weeks prior to the author’s suicide at the age of 23. David Park Barnitz was largely influenced by the French decadents; his poetry is marked by a distinct voice suffused with intellectual cynicism and misanthropy. He graduated from Harvard University, where he developed into both a poet and an Orientalist scholar, shortly before publishing The Book of Jade. Upon his admittance to the American Oriental Society upon recommendation from a professor, he was its youngest member. He was also a classmate of poet Wallace Stevens, who would later become an important figure in American modernist poetry.
This first edition was printed by William Doxey, San Francisco bookseller and publisher of popular humorist Gelett Burgess and many other now obscure macabre authors. The Book of Jade was one of the last publications issued before the collapse of Doxey’s business. In the ensuing century, the book has become a cult classic for horror and supernatural readers due to its embrace of decadent, gothic, and macabre sensibilities.