Aiken Poetry MLs (ML127 and 101)

Gordon Neavill aa3401 at
Sat Jul 14 18:46:00 EDT 2001

Hi John and other ML people,

Aiken's MODERN AMERICAN POETS was published in the ML in spring 1927.  The
first printing has a first statement on the verso of the title page and a
jacket with a spring 1927 list (includes Hudson, Purple Land but not Hardy,
Jude the Obscure).  It remained in print under this title through the 1930s
and appeared in both imitation leather and balloon cloth bindings.  Three
different jackets were used in the imitation leather and balloon cloth
periods, all of which used the jacket title AN ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN AMERICAN
POETRY.  Jacket titles and titles as given on title pages didn't always
match!   The jackets are Henry's jackets 3 and 4 and a specially designed
nonpictorial jacket that was introduced by spring 1935.  This jacket has an
inset dark bluish green panel on which the title and decorations appear in
reverse; other lettering is in black.  The collection was not original to
the ML but a reprint of an influential anthology originally published under
the same title in England in 1922.  The ML edition included minor revisions
in Aiken's preface and added ten poems by Aiken.

The title was changed to MODERN AMERICAN POETRY when the anthology was put
into the Blumenthal format in spring 1940.  The newly designed typographic
jacket has the title in reverse against a deep reddish orange panel at the
upper left and other lettering outside the panel in black.  The jacket title
remains AN ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN AMERICAN POETRY.  (John: Your 271 jacket is
either spring 1940 (doesn't include Emerson, Complete Essays) or spring 1941
(includes Hugo, Hunchback but not Bemelmans, My War with the U.S.)

A revision of the anthology, published under the new title TWENTIETH-CENTURY
AMERICAN POETRY, appeared in March 1945 although the first statement on the
verso is First Modern Library Edition, 1944.  I haven't seen this in a 1940s
jacket and would be interested to know if anyone has it in an early jacket.
Later jackets (and probably earlier ones too) give the title as

Aiken revised the anthology again in the early 1960s.  This was published in
April 1963 in a first printing of 10,000 copies.  There's no first statement
on the verso but the first printing has a spring 1963 Giants list at the end
of the volume (includes G87 Medieval Epics but not G88 O'hara, 49 Stories).
The jacket (nonpictorial with background in strong greenish blue and
lettering in white, vivid greenish yellow and black) also has a spring 1963
list (415 with Erasmus, Praise of Folly).  Around 1969/70 it appeared in the
taller format with the Fujita torchbearer on the title page and in a newly
designed jacket with lettering in black and vivid red and decorations in
vivid red and deep blue, all against a white background.

for the ML.  The first printing was in January or February 1929 and includes
a first statement on the verso (First Modern Library Edition | 1929);
there's a fall 1928 list at the end of the volume (includes Apuleius but not
Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov).  The list inside the first printing of the
jacket is also fall 1928.  The jacket title was A COMPREHENSIVE ANTHOLOGY OF
AMERICAN POETRY.  Henry's jacket 4 was used into the mid-1930s.  This was
replaced by the specially designed nonpictorial jacket (in vivid red instead
of dark bluish green) also used in the late 1930s for MODERN AMERICAN POETS;
the earliest example of this jacket I've seen is fall 1936.

Early printings in the Blumenthal format also used the title AMERICAN
POETRY, 1671-1928: A COMPREHENSIVE ANTHOLOGY.  The newly designed
typographic jacket is similar to that used on early printings of MODERN
AMERICAN POETRY in the Blumenthal format, except that the panel at the upper
left is in dark gray with other lettering in brown.  The jacket title

Aiken also revised this anthology in the 1940s.  The revision was published
The first printing was published in February 1945 but has a 1944 copyright
date on the verso.  I've never seen it with a first statement.  The jacket
of the first printing has a spring 1945 list (304) and is otherwise
identical to the jacket used on earlier printings in the Blumenthal format.
Beginning in fall 1964 dark purplish red replaced dark gray as the
background color of the panel at the upper left and strong purplish red
replaced brown for the other lettering.  The Fujita torchbearer replaced
Kent's on the title page around 1969; the rest of the title page, including
the title, remained the same.

Got all that?  There will be a quiz!  I'm off to a book history conference
in Williamsburg, Va., next week.  See you when I get back.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Krygier" <jbkrygie at>
To: "ModLib List" <modlib at>
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2001 1:42 PM
Subject: Aiken Poetry MLs (ML127 and 101)

> Hello ModLib peoples,
> I have some questions about the Conrad Aiken edited MLs, which are
> confusing because of the mismatch between the DJ and book titles.
> As far as I can figure out there were two related Aiken edited MLs
> in the late 30s and early 40s (info from Henry's Guide):
> 101.2: 'American Poetry 1671-1928' (on book) or 'A Comprehensive
> Anthology of American Poetry' (on DJ).  I have a copy of this book,
> binding #7, 236 titles, with a D cover (it has some curly design
> elements; an oval w/text, etc.  The Guide says only B for a DJ).
> 127.1 'Modern American Poets" (1927-39) retitled as 127.2 'Modern
> American Poetry' (1940-44).
> I just found a copy of the Blumenthal (Toledano #8) binding of
> Modern American Poetry (#127.2 w/271 titles on the DJ).
> I noticed that Toledano's Guide is missing some information on
> this title: The DJ (noted as ? in the Guide) is text (T) and I am
> assuming that the 1st issue DJ is 271.  (Scot, if he can pause from
> furiously scanning DJs, can add this info to the Guide updates
> page at
> I was looking at my copy of 101.2 (the binding #7, from 1936 given
> 236 titles on the DJ) and noticed that the DJ cover says:
> "A companion volume is "Modern American Poetry" Volume #127
> in the Modern Library.
> Now Henry's Guide says that the "Modern American Poetry" title
> was not used until 1940, that prior to 1940 the title was "Modern
> American Poets."  But the 1936 DJ of 101.2 seems to suggest
> otherwise.
> So what is up?  Was my 1940 Blumenthal the real first issue of 127.2
> "Modern American Poetry" or was it earlier?  This may all be due
> to the mismatch between DJs and the books, but I am curious if there
> is a flex covered ML entitled "Modern American Poetry" (thus I don't
> have a 1st issue of 127.2).
> John K.
> --
> j   b   k r y g i e r
> a s s i t a n t  p r o f e s s o r  o f  g e o g r a p h y
> o h i o  w e s l e y a n  u n i v e r s i t y
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> d e l a w a r e  o h  4 3 0 1 5
> pho  740 368 3622   |   fax  740 368 3999
> jbkrygie at   |

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