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    Rudolph Fisher. The Conjure-Man Dies. A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem. New York: Covici-Friede, 1932. First edition. Octavo (7.5 x 5.125 inches; 190 x 129 mm.). [4], 316 pages. Publisher's light brown cloth, spine lettered in black, front board with a single vertical black rule; top edge stained red, others rough-trimmed; in the original dust jacket. A bit of soiling, discoloration to binding; boards slightly pushed at bottom corners, resulting in bowing effect. Text block edges slightly dust-soiled; normal age toning to unstained edges and interior. Fairly mild toning to dust jacket; a small amount of chipping at spine and flap fold ends; some insect damage principally to front flap fold, with some scattered at margins of front and rear panel; small crease at rear flap; some splitting at each spine and flap fold end, though still sound. A bit of discoloration to verso. Still, very good. Uncommon, the only record in Rare Book Hub being from when Heritage sold a copy in 2017. Writer, physician, and Harlem Renaissance figure Rudolph Fisher's last novel, and the first in its genre with an African-American detective, and the first set in a predominately African-American neighborhood. Fisher died two years after its publication. From the Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction.

    More Information: "Other African-American works that relied upon pulp genres were also overlooked due to either their popular form or deviance from the ethos of the Harlem Renaissance; for example, Rudolph Fisher's The Conjure Man Dies, which has been neglected except as one of the first black detective stories (it undoubtedly offers the first black urban detective). As a result, it has been written off by critics as only a detective story and beneath the considerable talents of Fisher, whom Langston Hughes called the 'whitiest of the New Negroes.' But...Fisher's aim is more apparent: to write a popular and sensation genre novel that humanizes African-Americans, hence he uses the pulp form propagandistically. The Conjure Man Dies is therefore a more sophisticated work than Harlem Renaissance critics have allowed. Maria Balshaw recently wrote that The Conjure Man Dies, despite playing 'fast and loose with tradition, urbanity, high and low culture, rationalism and primitivism,' has been long overlooked 'perhaps because there seems so little context for understanding an African American detective novel in this period; perhaps more because its 'inherent variety' of form makes it a difficult text to classify or respond to.'" (David M. Earle. Re-Covering Modernism. Pulps, Paperbacks, and the Prejudice of Form. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2009, p. 124).

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    Auction Dates
    March, 2019
    6th Wednesday
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