New York: William Faro, 1933. Rare first edition. 8vo (5 ½ x 8 in.) in cloth. Original plum cloth and paper spine label. 370 pp. Signed and annotated with pencil by previous owner. Protected in clear plastic sleeve. Signed G. Legman copy. Some wear and soiling, occasional foxing, otherwise good condition. Item #ANT201
One of the last of only thirty titles published by notorious erotica publisher Sam Roth, A Scarlet Pansy is an extraordinary depiction of American queer life in the early twentieth century. Written by the writer, poet, and publisher Robert McAlmon under the pseudonym Robert Scully, this transgressive novel tells the coming-of-age story of Fay Etrange, who explores her gender and sexual non-conformity in New York City. Both a cultural touchstone as well as delightful work of modernist literature, this rare, first edition of A Scarlet Pansy is a unique piece of literary history.
Robert McAlmon (1895-1956) was a modernist poet and publisher and an active member of Greenwich Village’s early 20th century Bohemian Milieu. Along with William Carlos Williams he founded the famed Contact Review, one of the most important of the so-called “little magazines” so instrumental in bringing Modernist poetics and prose to the public. He later founded Contact publishing, which published Hemingway, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, H.D., and Mary Butts, among others. Of himself, he wrote in the poem Consecration, “there is a debacle of various egos in me;” Scarlet Pansy is an exploration of one of those complex egos, and an honest modernistic take on identity far ahead of its time.