"The world had changed to silver, and life ceased to be a struggle and became a gay adventure": First edition of Nella Larsen's Quicksand; inscribed by her

  • Quicksand.
  • Quicksand.
  • Quicksand.



Item Number: 95263

New York & London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928.

First edition of Nella Larsen’s first book. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “To my friend Harriet S. Wright, this tale of pride, prejudice and passion Nella Larsen.” First editions of any of Larsen’s works are rare, as she disappeared from Harlem’s interracial literary and arts community after her ex-husband’s death in 1942. Struggling with depression, Larsen stopped writing, returned to her previous career in nursing, moved to the Lower East Side and did not return to Harlem. Many of Larsen’s old acquaintances speculated that she, like some of the characters in her fiction, had crossed the color line to “pass” into the white community. In very good condition. Rare and desirable.

The most obviously autobiographical of Larsen's two novels, Quicksand is the story of a bi-racial young woman who sets out on a mission to to find the people among whom she will feel she belongs. In a letter to close personal friend Carl van Vechten, Larsen referred to the emotional experiences of the novel as "the awful truth", as she herself struggled with finding a sense of belonging between the worlds of her Danish mother and African American father. In 1928, Quicksand earned Larsen the second prize for literature from the Harmon Foundation, established in 1922 to recognize African-American artists who otherwise would have remained largely unknown.

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