The Eater of Darkness (1st edition, 1926) with The Eater of Darkness (1st U.S. edition, 1929)
Paris; New York: Contact Editions; The Macaulay Company, 1926; 1929.
First printings. 179 pp., 5.75 x 7.75 inches; 238 pp., 5.5 x 7.75 inches. Two volumes, housed in a custom-made two compartment box. The first edition is in the original binding of sewn signatures glued into plain wrappers, with a marbled-paper dust-jacket and printed spine and cover labels; the first U.S. edition is in cloth over boards in printed dust-jacket. Both volumes are in better than usual condition. The Paris edition shows wear to extremities of the jacket and very small losses at the top and bottom of the jacket spine, with the front panel neatly separated at the spine; the spine label is lightly rubbed and chipped and slightly darkened, but the cover label is about fine. The first top edge (of the front blank and half-title) is uncut, but all the other edges have been cut very cleanly. The bright yellow cloth of the U.S. edition is very slightly mottled, but the silver spine and cover stamping are still bright; the yellow top-edge stain is still strong, and the binding is solid, with only a sliver or two of separation between signatures. The distinctive and extremely scarce dust-jacket has a few very small losses at corners, but is unclipped and overall presents strongly. The box, made specifically for this set by artist Hester Coucke, and featuring a marbled interior, a removable platform to separate the two volumes, satin ribbons for lifting each book, and a cover label reproduced from the label on the first edition, is in fine condition. Item #4640
Often referred to as the first Dada novel (or the first by an American, or other unprovable assertions), The Eater of Darkness is an experimental and fantastical work that, while set in New York, is one of the quintessential productions of the expatriate milieu of Paris in the 1920s. Credited for such notable accomplishments as introducing Hemingway to Gertrude Stein, coining the term "abstract expressionism," and so on, Coates was assuredly a prolific and dedicated writer — of novels, short stories, and art criticism. After his return to New York from Paris, shortly after the appearance of this, his first book, Coates joined the staff of the recently founded New Yorker, and wrote for the magazine for forty years.