The American Spectator (Volume 1, Nos. 1–7)
New York: The American Spectator Publishing Company, 1932 and 1933. Newspaper, 8.75 x 11.25 inches. Folded newsprint with expected toning and brittle folds, but largely free of material chips and tears. Each issue includes the original wrap-around band. Near-fine. Item #48
An excellent collection of the first seven issues of The American Spectator founded by George Jean Nathan, Eugene O’Neill, Ernest Boyd, Theodore Dreiser, and James Branch in 1932 to publish original literary and opinion pieces from distinguished American and European writers. Not to be confused with the conservative magazine of the same name, The American Spectator set out to advance original fiction, opinion, and literary criticism by inviting each contributor to direct and self-edit their own articles, and it further set itself apart by refusing to sell advertising space in its pages. The first issue sold for fifty cents (which was then a rather high price for newsprint) and sold out, prompting an additional print-run of twenty thousand copies, though later issues would sell for ten cents a copy. The founding editors vowed to disband the magazine should it stray from its foundational mission and become driven by mere routine—a promise they kept when, in 1935, the initial editorial team departed. The American Spectator continued publishing under Charles Angoff and John Lehman as a monthly until October 1936 and, thereafter, as a bimonthly until it ultimately closed its doors in 1937. Throughout its short life, however, The American Spectator was widely considered a success by its contributors and critics. These first seven issues each includes the original wrap-around band naming the various contributors, which include Theodore Dreiser, Clarence Darrow, Lincoln Steffens, Van Wyck Brooks, Havelock Ellis, Booth Tarkington, Sherwood Anderson, and others. An excellent collection of this plucky literary venture that would publish many of the most distinguished American and European authors and commentators during its short but adventurous run in the 1930s.