Less Than Nothing -- or The Life and Times of Sterling Finny

Price: 2,800.00 USD

[New York]: [The New Yorker], 1927. First and only edition of E.B. White's first book, a pitch-perfect series of comic advertisements for The New Yorker, published in-house as a giveaway to friends and advertisers of the magazine. Founded in 1925 by Harold Ross and Jane Grant, The New Yorker aimed to be "a reflection in word and picture of metropolitan life," a smart modern magazine "not edited for the old lady in Dubuque." Writing anonymously, young staff writer E.B. White produced a series of short features about an attractive young couple of astonishing stupidity, Sterling Finny and his wife Flora. Deftly parodying the melodramatic "halitosis style" of advertising, in which a seemingly trivial oversight leads to personal disaster, White describes ten scenarios in which Sterling and Flora are saved from social death by a regular reading of The New Yorker. "Perhaps you, too, have failed at a summer colony because you left everything to your gorgeous body. Have you ever been spoken of in whispers as 'the man with a physique only'? Why can't you realize that there is an easy way to avoid all this -- simply by having your copy of The New Yorker sent to your summer address?" Each advertisement is illustrated with a photograph of the striving couple, played by a pair of mannequins that White encountered in Wanamaker's department store. OCLC lists seven copies of this ephemeral production: Yale, Cornell, Berkeley, Virginia, Bryn Mawr, the Morgan, and the Smithsonian. Hall A1. A near-fine copy of a modernist rarity. Single volume, measuring 9 x 5.75 inches: [28]. Original green cloth spine, orange and black batik paper boards with green pastedown label to front board. Illustrated with ten black-and-white photographs staged and shot by White. Hinges reinforced, lightest edgewear to binding.

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