[ModLib] 15 Famous European Plays ??

Brian LeMasters brianlemasters at gmail.com
Thu Apr 29 00:44:40 EDT 2010

Thanks, Barry.  You have described the book perfectly.  I would have 
guessed earlier than the '80s just by the look of the book, but your 
evidence is solid.  You guessed my REAL question;  "Why was Grand Hotel 
left out?"  I should have known that copyright issues were the problem.  
Thanks also for clearing up the origination of these compilations.  I 
wonder why the decision was made to bind this so similar to the ML 
Giant?  It is a quarter inch taller and has no emblem, but it sure made 
me look twice when I first noticed it on the bookshelf.  And, just to be 
clear, the book does have a dust jacket that designates the Fireside 
Theatre Book Club edition and has "Raves" for the Fireside Theatre 
blurbs on the rear panel (the book has no BCE markings except for the 
cheap paper).

Gordon B. Neavill wrote:
> This is fascinating! I've never encountered this version of Sixteen 
> Famous European Plays before. It's obviously not a ML Giant binding, 
> and the imprint on the spine is Random House, not ML. So I checked the 
> OCLC database (this is where libraries get most of the bibliographic 
> records for their catalogs; the publicly accessible version is known 
> as WorldCat), and here's what I found.  It's a special edition 
> produced for the Fireside Theatre Book Club.   Van Cartmell, who 
> edited the anthology with Bennett Cerf, was editor-in-chief of Garden 
> City Publishing Co., a subsidiary of Doubleday, Doran, and the four  
> play anthologies they edited together were published first by Garden 
> City and later in ML Giants.  The original edition of Sixteen Famous 
> European Plays was published in 1943 and the Giant followed in 1946.  
> The copyright date is 1943.  The Fireside Theatre Book Club edition is 
> undated except for the original copyright date (1943), but the 
> bibliographic record was first entered into the OCLC database on 
> January 13, 1982.  I expect that's shortly after the Fireside Theatre 
> Book Club edition appeared.  It's possible that the book club edition 
> appeared before 1982, but obviously not later than that.
> The omitted play is Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel. The only reason that the 
> play would have been omitted is that the original agreement with the 
> copyright holder didn't extend to the book club edition.  Why would 
> the copyright holder have withheld rights at this particular time?  
> The play was originally copyrighted in 1930.  What was going on in the 
> early 1980s that caused the copyright holder to balk?
> I had no idea, so I looked up Grand Hotel in Wikipedia.  Under Grand 
> Hotel (Musical) I found that the play was turned into a musical called 
> "At the Grand" in 1958, opened in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but 
> the scheduled opening on Broadway was canceled after Paul Muni left 
> the cast. Another attempt was made in the 1980s to give the show 
> another try. This time it was placed in the hands of Tommy Tune as 
> director and choreographer. There were tryouts in Boston, but early 
> versions of the musical didn't work; the original writers were fired, 
> the play was revamped, and after 31 previews it opened on Broadway in 
> November 1989 and ran for 1017 performances.
> I can only assume that the copyright holders of Grand Hotel had hopes 
> or actual plans along these lines in the early 1980s and nixed its 
> inclusion in the Fireside Theatre Book Club edition for that reason. 
> It continued to be available in the ML Giant.
> I'll include a note about this in my ML bibliography which I'll be 
> submitting to the University of Virginia for electronic publication at 
> the end of the summer. I'm revising the entries for the Giants now.
> Barry
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Brian LeMasters" <brianlemasters at gmail.com>
> To: "For collectors of Modern Library books" <modlib at thuban.owu.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 6:08:41 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
> Subject: [ModLib] 15 Famous European Plays ??
> Greetings to all:
> Today's trivia question:  Which play was left out (or added later)?
> _______________________________________________ ModLib mailing list 
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> -- 
> Gordon B. Neavill
> Associate Professor
> School of Library and Information Science
> Wayne State University
> 106 Kresge Library
> Detroit, MI 48202
> 313-577-0507; 313-577-7563 (fax)
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