Item #410065 Paterson. William Carlos WILLIAMS.


Norfolk, CT: New Directions, [1946-48-49-51-58]. 5 volumes, 8vo. A complete set of Williams' epic poem, each volume in original printed dust jacket. Some toning and occasional soiling to the jackets (and a few pale stains), a few small chips, overall a very good plus set, vol. 2 with unobtrusive ownership signature. Item #410065

First editions, volume one boldly signed by Williams in an early hand.

"I started to make trips to the area. I walked around the streets; I went on Sundays in summer when the people were using the park, and I listened to their conversation as much as I could. I saw whatever they did, and made it part of the poem..." – Williams.

Paterson is Williams' great long-form documentary work. It not only redefined subject matter, but prosody – Williams worked on it for years before finalizing the first volume, continually refining his use of the line outside of conventional meter. Its scale and its scope, and the fact that it was published in individual volumes over a long period of time (and not collected until 1963) complicated its reception, and its mosaic structure challenged readers perhaps more than Williams expected. Paterson was Cyril Connolly's final selection in his choice of the 100 key books of The Modern Movement: "The long poem has many moods and includes quotations from letters by Pound and Ginsberg, large Seurat-like canvases of the Park on Sunday, intimate Bonnard-like interiors, uproarious comedy ... his poem is written with a deep aversion to all forms of pretentiousness, rhetoric or prepared effects; it runs eddying along, broken by old letters, bits of local history and limpid love lyrics."

The volumes were printed in small editions: volume one comprised 1063 copies (952 bound at publication date and 111 bound in April, 1948); volume two of 1009 copies (similarly handled); volume 3 of 999 copies; volume 4 of 995 copies; and volume 5 ambitiously appeared in 3000 copies (1500 on its 17 September 1958 publication date and 1480 bound that December). Wallace A24, 25, 30, 34, 44.

Price: $4,000.00

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