Jurgen. A Comedy of Justice. New York: Robert McBride & Co., 1919.
First edition, first issue.
Octavo [viii], 368 pp. Rust colored publisher’s cloth, gilt on spine a bit faded otherwise a fine uncut and partially unopened copy, without the rare dust-jacket.
First edition, first issue, with the unbroken rule on page 144 and the correct measurement of the text block. A fantasy tale set in the fictional country of Poictesme, it recounts the story of a medieval pawnbroker who sets out on an ever increasing fantastical journey. The two years after its initial publication, the novel was the subject of a famous obscenity case, after it was denounced by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. While the novel often has erotic overtones, it was a comment about papal infallibility that truly offended the prosecutors. Cabell eventually won the case, and gained international fame in the process.
Cabell (1879-1958) was no stranger to scandal; while an undergraduate he was dismissed from college for developing an inappropriate relationship with a professor, and was a suspect in the murder of John Scott, a man rumored to be involved with Cabell’s mother. Cabell’s writing was highly respected by his peers, and he became the leader of a group of writers called The James Branch Cabell School, which counted H.L. Mencken, Elinor Wylie, and Carl Van Vechten amongst its members.