Author: Smith, James Thorne (1892-1934)
Publisher: Robert M McBride and Company
Place: New York
342 pages. Small octavo (7 3/4" x 5 1/2") bound in original publisher's blue cloth with front board and spine lettered in gilt in original pictorial jacket. Inscribed by the author. First edition.
Meandering labyrinth of a story about a New York advertising executive who leaves his job in the city to write poetry in a hut by the sea. Although entranced by the ocean and the miles of sand and the salt marshes, David finds himself caught in the coils of his attraction to two women: Hilda, "the mate to his flame, the answering spark," but despairing and fragile (and married), and Scarlet, seductive and available (but morally rotten). Hilda's husband is a sadistic libertine whose subtle cruelties are slowly killing his wife; a situation that so unsettles the poet's wits that he falls prey to a heavily symbolic dream obsession. Smith successfully establishes a surreal voice and includes wonderful passages describing the mad moods of the sea and notes and observations about life and the hereafter, all waiting to be discovered sparkling in the sand throughout the story. The ax of a sharp and discerning editor might have turned Smith's efforts into a compelling Gothic romance, but, alas, the story gets lost in a shifting fog of dreams and fantasies, and never emerges fully formed. Dream's End is a radical departure from Thorne Smith's humorous novels, and was, in fact, Smith's first book rejected by publishers until his Topper novels became successful. Fans of Thorne Smith are likely to be intrigued by this book for its Gothic nature and for an unexpected glimpse at a more serious side of the author.
Inscribed on the front flyleaf, in ink, "There are only a few of us and you're one. Thorne Smith." Beneath that, at an angle, is the date in pencil, apparently in Smith's hand, "March 25, 1927." Faint stain to front cover. Jacket spine toned, jacket worn with chips and tears, some thumb-soiling to jacket, price clipped else a very good to fine copy in a better than very good jacket.