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Four Fantastic Stories by Hugh Walpole / Rex Whistler first edition 1932

Four Fantastic Stories by Hugh Walpole / Rex Whistler first edition 1932


London: Macmillan and Co. Limited, 1932


8vo., forest green publisher’s boards, ruled and with central device in blind to upper board; spine ruled and lettered in gilt; upper edge green; complete in the rather wonderful dust jacket designed by Rex Whistler (7s. 6d. net); pp. [iv], v-xiv, 923, [i], [6, ads.]; with title vignette also by the artist; a fantastic, and bright copy, near-fine, with light compression to spine tips and very minor portion where the upper edge stain has bled onto the outer edge; the dust jacket also in near-fine condition, save for a couple of creases and two small closed tears to the spine.  


First edition. 


From the opening lines of the first short story, “The gray twilight gives to the long, pale stretches of sand the sense of something strangely unreal”, Walpole’s collection of these three enigmatic tales present the reader with mystery, intrigue, and a touch of the macabre. The four stories included are Maradick at Forty, Prelude to Adventure, A Man with Red Hair and Above the Dark Circus.


Maradick at Forty was originally published in 1910, and was Walpole’s second novel, one where he describes his own writing as ‘wild and fantastic, with the Devil as one of the principle characters’. The Prelude to Adventure followed shortly afterwards, although it initially received a lukewarm response. Indeed, Walpole writes, “stories about the Devil must seem absurd to a generation that has known the Great War… hard facts have been too real to be disregarded”. 


Compiled here in one volume, all four stories centre around the themes of good and evil, and are an attempt by the author to reconcile the world of the supernatural with what he describes as the world of fact. 


Though copies of this omnibus edition are not hard to find, they rarely appear with both the book and its jacket in such vibrant condition. The dust jacket illustration is arguably one of Whistler’s finest.

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