Superb pair of items, including the contract for and first edition of Arthur Miller’s debut book, Situation Normal. First is a DS signed “Arthur Miller,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 8.5 x 14, July 26, 1944. Agreement between Miller and Reynal and Hitchcock for the publication of his very first book, in which Miller grants “to the Publisher the sole and exclusive right to publish in book form in the English language in the United States and Canada his book covering his experiences in [army] training camps, title to be determined…It is understood that the copyright for ’Situation Normal’ shall be taken out by the Publisher at his own expense in the name of Lester Cowan Productions, Inc.” Boldly signed at the conclusion in fountain pen by Miller and countersigned by a Reynal and Hitchcock representative and two witnesses. Second is a presentation copy of the first edition of Situation Normal, hardcover with unclipped original dust jacket, signed and inscribed to a collector on the title page in blue ballpoint by Miller. Both the document and book are in fine autographic condition, with expected document wear. The book is in VG/VG condition. The book and contract are housed in a custom-made crimson clamshell box (Dragonfly Bindery Studio, Woonsocket, RI).
Despite having already written a few unpublished plays, Miller’s first actual book was Situation Normal. Recognized as an up-and-coming radio dramatist, Miller was hired by Hollywood producer Lester Cowan to work on the screenplay for a movie based on the life of pulitzer prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Miller visited army bases nationwide as a part of his research, collecting tales from the soldiers he encountered. He envisioned a film portraying these collective stories, but the studio needed a marketable single hero. Disappointed, Miller soon left the job. The movie came out under the title The Story of GI Joe, and Miller went uncredited. Still determined to publish his research, Miller transformed his material into a book of reportage, Situation Normal. It developed the themes that would continue throughout Miller’s oeuvre, offering a critique of American values on the whole with an attentiveness to social injustice and racism. He continued to explore these themes in his second book, the novel entitled Focus, which was published by Reynal and Hitchcock the following year. A rare pairing featuring the contract for the first book written by a leading figure in 20th-century American literature. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.