“Love is never any better than the lover": First Edition of Toni Morrison's First Book The Bluest Eye; Signed by her
The Bluest Eye.
Item Number: 1913
New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1970.
First edition of Morrison’s first book. Octavo, original half cloth. Signed by Toni Morrison on the title page. From the library of Lynn Nesbit, who served as Toni Morrison’s literary agent for a number of years. In 1965, Nesbit created the literary department for what later became International Creative Management. Near fine in a near fine first issue dust jacket with the $5.95 price and 1070 on the bottom of front flap, with a single closed tear. Dust jacket design by Herb Lubalin and Jay Tribich. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. A superior example with noted provenance.
Set in Lorain, Ohio, in 1941, The Bluest Eye is something of an ensemble piece. The point of view is passed like a baton from one character to the next, with Morrison's own voice functioning as a kind of gold standard throughout. The focus, though, is on an 11-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove, whose entire family has been given a cosmetic cross to bear: You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.... And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it. There are far uglier things in the world than, well, ugliness, and poor Pecola is subjected to most of them. She's spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. No wonder she yearns to be the very opposite of what she is--yearns, in other words, to be a white child, possessed of the blondest hair and the bluest eye. "Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is an inquiry into the reasons why beauty gets wasted in this country. The beauty in this case is black. [Miss Morrison's prose is] so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry...I have said 'poetry,' but The Bluest Eye is also history, sociology, folklore, nightmare and music" (John Leonard, The New York Times).