Essay Writer

DAVIS, George

The Opening of a Door

New York: Harper & Bros., 1931

8vo, pp. 265. Original black boards, lettered in gilt on front panel and spine. Variegated endpapers. Lacking the dustwrapper. Spine ends very lightly bumped, otherwise a near fine copy.

First edition of the author's only novel.

Originally from the American midwest, George Davis (1906-1957) spent his twenties as an expatriate in Paris. He was encouraged to write this, his only completed novel, by Norman Douglas and Jean Cocteau. A critique of Midwestern hypocrisy with an encoded plea for tolerance embedded inside, the book's positive reviews did not convince Davis to pursue a career as a novelist: his second book never got past chapter three. Back in the United States he became literary editor of Harper's Bazaar and, later, Mademoiselle, before founding an art commune in Brooklyn Heights, New York: for many years it served as an East Coast cultural hothouse both for its residents and for those passing through, Benjamin Britten and W. H. Auden among them. In 1951 the alcoholic and homosexual Davis married Lotte Lenya, the Austrian singer and widow of Kurt Weill.

The Opening Of A Door is no. 16 in Anthony Slide's Lost Gay Novels: A Reference Guide to Fifty Works from the First Half of the Twentieth Century (Routledge, 2003).

An excellent copy, lacking the very scarce dustwrapper.

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