Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Years with Ross

1959, possibly first edition from Little, Brown and Company
Written and illustrated by James Thurber
The Years with Ross
Original and purchase price unknown
Worn hardcover

This is my last book from the 1950s and easily the funniest.  Harold Ross, publisher of The New Yorker, was unique, an unsophisticated guy who published a sophisticated magazine.  He was full of contradictions like that, and Thurber clearly delighted in him, particularly his way of expressing himself.  (One quote is something like, "I don't want you to think I'm not inarticulate.")

I wondered on my Is Sex Necessary post if Thurber had co-written or just illustrated that book, and he does talk about it here.  He wrote it with White, who thought that Thurber should also illustrate it, although Thurber was not yet known as an illustrator.  Ross had some funny reactions to the publication, partly because he never knew what to make of Thurber's art.

The illustrations in this book are less tied to the text, although I presume they're all from The New Yorker.  Thurber talks about a few of them, including Ross's criticisms (of a first wife on top of a bookcase, who's not "stuffed, or just dead," he understandably asked, "Then, goddam it, what's she doing naked in the house of her former husband and his second wife?"), but mostly they're there for decoration.

Ross died in 1951, Thurber in '61.

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