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Book Description

MOLY – ‘THE ACHIEVEMENT OF WHICH GUNN WAS MOST PROUD’ – WITH A COPY OF POETRY BOOK SOCIETY BULLETIN CONTAINING GUNN’S ESSAY ON THE COLLECTION

Octavo (217 x 137mm), pp. 55, [1 (blank)]. (A few very light and unobtrusive marks.) Original yellow cloth, spine lettered in gilt, dustwrapper [with calligraphic design after Berthold Wolpe], not price-clipped. (Light offsetting on endpapers, extremities very lightly rubbed, very small mark on lower board, dustwrapper slightly rubbed and creased at edges, slightly darkened on spine, a few light marks.) A very good, clean copy. Provenance: Thomas Parry (contemporary ownership signature on title).
Dealer Notes
First edition. Loosely inserted is Poetry Book Society Bulletin, no. 68 (Spring 1971), a four-page octavo bifolium, which features Moly as the first of three collections in its ‘Spring Choice’ and includes ‘Thom Gunn Writes ...’, an essay by Gunn on his book. In the essay Gunn explains that the collection takes its title from the herb Hermes presents to Odysseus, to be consumed as a protection against Circe’s powers. Gunn’s essay concludes ‘I am telling you how I see myself and how I see my book. It may be that this account of myself as a poet is only what I want to think. And there are certainly other ways of looking at my book. It could be seen as a debate between the passion for definition and the passion for flow, it could be seen as a history of San Francisco from 1965-9, or as a personal memoir of those years. But I think of it as being about Odysseus’ meeting with Hermes, his eating of that herb, and his reflections on metamorphosis in the remaining walk he has before he reaches the thick stone-built house’ (pp. [1]-[2]).

The first edition of Moly was published on 23 March 1971 in an edition of 4,000 copies with a calligraphic dustwrapper designed by the celebrated graphic artist and typographer Berthold Wolpe (who designed a number of dustwrappers for Gunn’s books), and it was ‘the achievement of which Gunn was most proud’ (ODNB).

Hagstrom and Bixby, Thom Gunn, A15a.
Author GUNN, Thomson William (‘Thom’)
Date 1971
Publisher London: Latimer Trend & Co Ltd for Faber and Faber Limited

Price: £45.00

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