White, Edmund. CARACOLE. New York City, NY: E. P. Dutton, 1985. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 342 pages. Fine/Fine.

The author's fourth novel. Now considered a contemporary classic. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. The First Edition is now very scarce. A historical fantasy, set in an imaginary time and place (a brilliant conflation of Venice, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro), the novel tells the story of Gabriel as he is introduced to the masculine rites of adulthood: Sex, social intrigue, and political power. Inspired by Choderlos de Laclos' classic, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses", it remains Edmund White's most controversial novel. Like "Dangerous Liaisons", "Caracole" is about the subtle, chess-like mind games that people play, the human being (typically an innocent boy or girl) turned into hunter's delicious prey. The spoiler is, as always, true love. The novel famously ended White's friendship with Susan Sontag, one of his earliest and most passionate supporters, because she appears in the novel as "Mathilda", the greatest intellectual of her time, with her son, the journalist David Rieff thrown in, as "Daniel", a tragic failure who lives in his mother's shadow. Thinly veiled, it is a vindictive, wounding, and savage characterization of Sontag, publicly formidable but privately thin-skinned and emotionally vulnerable after all. Truman Capote waited until Katherine Anne Porter was safely dead before mercilessly skewering her in "Answered Prayers", as the notoriously predatory, nymphomaniacal power player of the American literary establishment everyone knew her to be. Edmund White evidently could not wait that long. He once famously said that there is a very fine line between love and hate because they are the two deepest (and therefore, most irrational) emotions. We can hate only those whom we have truly loved, the rest is cold contempt. The fragile yet genuine bond between many male homosexual writers and their older female patrons is surely a subject for a book in itself. Written in Edmund White's effortless, supple prose: "A seduction through language, a masque without masks. Brings back to startling life a dormant strain in serious American writing: The idea of the Romantic" (Cynthia Ozick). One of his most fully realized creations, this is a "must-have" title for Edmund White collectors. This copy is very prominently and beautifully signed in black pen on the half-title page by Edmund White. This title has been out-of-print as a hardcover for a very long time and is now highly collectible. This is one of few signed copies of the First Hardcover Edition still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. Most copies available online have major flaws. A very scarce signed copy thus. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1994 for "Genet". Anointed by Vladimir Nabokov as his American successor. One of the finest living American writers. A fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER EDMUND WHITE TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0525242813. $70.00

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