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[AGEE, James] LEWIS, Sinclair - Elmer Gantry [James Agee's Copy at Phillips Exeter Academy Dated March 1927]

New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, (1927). Hardcover. A later printing, ex-library copy with the bookplate of The Phillips Exeter Academy library on the front pastedown, stamped DISCARDED, of a book made into a film starring Burt Lancaster that won three Academy Awards. An undistinguished copy BUT for the fact that it belonged to James Agee with his SIGNATURE "J R Agee" dated March 1927 on the front free endpaper. This copy later belonged to Henry Darcy Curwen, of the Exeter English faculty, who signed his name below Agee's. In March 1927, Agee, at age 17, was in his "upper-middle" year (junior) at Exeter, an admirer of Sinclair Lewis and already committed to a literary career, submitting poems and stories to the Phillips Exeter Monthly. In one of his early letters to Father Flye (LETTERS OF JAMES AGEE TO FATHER FLYE, pages 27-28) dated Exeter 17 March 1927, Agee writes: "I've bought and read Elmer Gantry, the Lewis satire on religion. It's very disappointing, although excellent in spots. He's turning rancid." Reflecting his own psychological unease at the time, Agee soon expands this somewhat in one of his earliest published critical articles, a review of ELMER GANTRY in the Phillips Exeter Monthly 31 (May 1927): "It is one gigantic crescendo of walloping filthiness, and I have the feeling that it carried Mr. Lewis before it, and left him stranded where not even himself can work his salvation." Early signed Agee material is uncommon, and the important resonance of this copy with his beginning literary efforts can hardly be exaggerated. Good copy, lacking the dustwrapper. An Agee rarity .