First Edition, First State of Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry; Signed By Him
Item Number: 81194
New York: Harcourt Brace, 1927.
First edition, first state with “Gantry” spelled “Cantry” on the spine of the cloth of the Nobel Prize-winning author’s controversial bestseller and basis for the Academy Award-winning film. Octavo, original cloth. Boldly signed by Sinclair Lewis on the front free endpaper. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket with a small chip to the crown of the spine. Uncommon signed.
In 1926, “Sinclair Lewis came to Kansas City to research a novel about preachers… Each Wednesday at his hotel, Lewis held wide-ranging bull sessions with a group of [local] ministers. He challenged their theologies and heard, in confidence, their ‘war stories.’ Lewis spent the following summer, at a Minnesota lake, writing Elmer Gantry” (Unitarian Universalist Historical Society). Praised by H.L. Mencken, the controversial novel “was an instant bestseller… Sales were further stimulated when Boston banned it and the evangelist Billy Sunday dubbed Lewis ‘Satan’s Cohort… A satire of American religious life, Elmer Gantry may be seen as a cautionary tale for ‘born again’ America” (Parker, 121-22). It was the basis for the 1960 film, bearing the same name, starring Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy, Shirley Jones and Patti Page. It was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1961, including Best Picture and Best Score. It won Best Actor for Lancaster, Best Supporting Actress for Jones, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jean Simmons was nominated for the best actress Golden Globe award.