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Book Description
Octavo (215 x 135mm), pp. 232. Portrait frontispiece after William Thomson and ‘decorations’ on part-titles by Susan Campbell. (Light spotting, principally affecting edges of bookblock.) Original light-green cloth, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, dustwrapper, price-clipped. (Spine very slightly leant, corners minimally rubbed, dustwrapper with a few light spots and traces of adhesive tape on flaps causing very minor loss of ISBN.) A very good copy in the dustwrapper. Provenance: clipped review by Geoffrey Moorhouse dated in ink ‘2.10.75’ and tipped onto rear free endpaper.
Dealer Notes
First edition. I Can’t Stay Long collects Lee’s journalism and occasional writing from a period of some thirty years, as the author explains in his preface: ‘[f]or some considerable time now I have had spread around my workroom floor odd piles and packages of manuscripts – the result of a generation of occasional prose writings – which have increasingly seemed to me, as I continued to trip over them, non-negotiable in more ways than one. At last I thought that the best thing to do was to gather them into a book, or at least a selection of them – partly as a means of clearing the barnacled chaos of my room but also as a way of revisiting dimly remembered experiences and exercises. […] I suppose the selection, on the whole, is a kind of scrapbook of first loves and obsessions. It is roughly divided into three parts. Part One covers some early recollections of my country childhood and my departure from it. Part Two contains certain abstract considerations of love and the senses, and more immediate experiences of birth and death. Part Three is simply devoted to a series of voyages, arranged more or less in the order in which they happened. Many describe visits to places in which I found unclouded warmth and welcome when to be a traveller was not yet to be just a labelled unit. They are therefore, for the most part, memorials to times and countries whose best is probably past and gone. Jet-tourism and war has finished off most of them. Prosperity has fortunately fattened but irradicably changed the rest. I think I was lucky to have known them when I did, before darkness began to fall from the air’ (pp. 11-12).

I Can’t Stay Long was published on 25 September 1975 (shortly before the tipped-in review in this copy was published), and enjoyed critical and commercial success, selling some 8,200 copies by 24 October 1975.

Oliver-Jones, Laurie Lee 1914-1997: A Bibliography, A.15(b).
Author LEE, Laurence Edward Alan (‘Laurie’)
Date 1975
Publisher London: W & J Mackay Limited for André Deutsch

Price: £14.95

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