(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).
Beau Geste (1924 [1925 American Edition])
Beau Sabreur (1926)
Beau Ideal (1928)
By P.C. Wren
First Editions, First Printings
DESCRIPTION: There are many moments in life when a cultural cliche becomes so widespread, we forget where it originated from in the first place; but that's not the case with the public's appetite for daring adventure stories set within the French Foreign Legion, in that it was literally one book that kicked off the mania in the first place, P.C. Wren's still delightful 1924 Beau Geste. Born in the Victorian Age and a childhood fan of H. Rider Haggard, Wren always claimed that he had worked as a fairgrounds boxer and other salty jobs in the years between public school and attending Oxford; and after a stint in the Indian Army during World War One, when he first decided to devote his life to writing literature, it was to this combination of swashbuckling and refinement that he turned, along the way establishing most of the tropes about Foreign Legion stories that even exist (including the idea that it's where bad boys end up in an attempt to redeem themselves, and the public's marriage of the Legion specifically to the deserts of North Africa). Beau Geste wasn't the first story Wren had written on the subject, and by all accounts it didn't seem to do that well when first coming out (but see below for more on this); but it was an infamous 1926 movie version that really captured the public's imagination, an Oscar nominee that was one of the very first really huge Hollywood megahits, and one of the last silent films to be so.
That's when you suddenly saw an explosion of Foreign Legion stories in magazines, bookstores and movie theaters, including two official sequels by Wren himself over the next several years; and Wren's British and American publishers wanted a piece of this action too, releasing brand-new illustrated second editions in 1927 (signed and numbered in the case of the British version). It's mostly copies of that much more popular 1927 edition that you see for sale online; but this copy today is one of the ultra-rare 1925 true first American editions, from before the movie made it a runaway bestseller. This particular auction is an extra-special one as well, because it also includes first editions/first printings of the book's two equally popular sequels, 1926's Beau Sabreur and 1928's Beau Ideal (both of which came out at the same time in both the US and UK, due to the series' increasing international popularity). As of July 2014, this is the single only place on the entire internet where you can find all three of these books for sale together, not to mention at the affordable price they're being offered (literally half the cost of their insurance value, simply to encourage an actual sale), and this is a can't-miss opportunity for any serious fan of war stories, French Foreign Legion history, or Early Modernist adventure tales. Act quickly, because at this price these books are sure to be snapped up soon.
CONDITION: Text: Good Plus (G+). In general all three volumes are still in good shape and with a tight binding, but with a crack along the inner hinge of both Geste and Sabreur, slight fraying to their fabric edges, various small stains on all covers, and in general showing their 80-plus-year age. All inside covers are blank and in good condition, except for the back cover of Ideal, which displays a fascinating stamp from the "Rental Library of Doubleday, Doran Book Shops Inc., 1106 Boardwalk, Steeplechase Pier, Atlantic City N.J.," along with a series of handwritten due dates from 1928. Dust Jacket: Missing for Geste and Ideal, in Poor condition for Sabreur. Although at least all the panels of this extremely rare dust jacket are still present, please be aware that they are all unattached from each other at this point (held together with a Demco mylar sleeve), and in the kind of delicate condition you would expect from a thin paper wrapper that is now 88 years old. As confirmed by the McBride Guide to Identifying First Editions, an agreement of date on the title page and copyright page of each book, and lack of additional printing notices, makes all of these first editions, first printings.
PROVENANCE: Geste: Acquired by CCLaP on September 2, 2013, at the Oak Park Book Fair. Sabreur: Acquired by CCLaP in July 2014 from Late Blue Highway Bookstore in California. Ideal: Acquired by CCLaP in July 2014 from After-Words Bookstore in Chicago.
MINIMUM BID: US$400 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $800 / FREE SHIPPING
(If coming across this in the future, see CCLaP's main page at eBay for the relisted auction URL)