False Firsts

A bunch of Modern Library first printings are difficult to spot because they lack a First Edition slug (First Modern Library Edition, New Edition, First Printing, Modern Library Edition <<month, year>>, or some other catchy phrase). These are all noted in the article Stalking the Unmarked First. But there's also a group of titles that not only do have first printing slugs but also carried them beyond the initial print runs.

The following table lists these potential false firsts along with indicators that let you separate the false from the real. In some cases, you only have the dust jacket to go by. (Bummer.) See the BookNotes for details.

This list may not be complete. If you know of other false firsts, or if you think any part of this chart is in error, please let us know.


Book Title Author Toledano Number True First Indicator(s) False Slug Ever Removed?
Age of Innocence Wharton 229.1 spring 1943 ML list in back and inside the jacket (291 titles; includes Du Maurier, Rebecca but not Shakespeare) Y
Anna Karenina Tolstoy 037.4 first binding style 11 N
Anthology of American Negro Literature Misc 163.1 blues lyrics that appear on pages 223-227 do not show names and copyright permissions Y
Art of Whistler Pennell E/J 150.1 first binding style 4 ?
Brothers Karamazov Dostoyevsky 151.1 last sheet of the book block blank, and no blank sheets at the front Y
Cass Timberlane Lewis 221.2 80 Giants listed in back (with G31 Famous Sciene-Fiction Stories but not Encyclopedia of Modern American Humor) Y
Catch-22 Heller 375.1 The true first was in a binding style 11. False slug likely appears only in #14 binding
Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy Burckhardt 32.4 Spring 1954 titles list (Byron, Selected Poetry, but not Browning, Selected Poetry) Y
Statement removed after Spring 1955, no longer present in Spring 1959
Complete Works Rabelais G065.1 The true first is in the #G4 binding. Y
Cream of the Jest Cabell 126.1 Catalog dated to Fall 1925 (includes Dumas, Camille, but not Anderson, Poor White) Y
Dead Souls Gogol 040.3 True first is in a #11 binding False slug appears in the #14 binding, other bindings unknown
Dubliners Joyce 124.1 October 1926 list (has Joyce, Dubliners but not Hudson, Purple Land) Y
Federalist Misc 139.3 3-line acknowledgment to the Carnegie Corporation of New York below the statement FIRST MODERN LIBRARY EDITION Y
Goodbye, Columbus Roth 374.1 Kent endpapers; first binding style 11 ?
Human Nature and Conduct Dewey 173.1 first state omits pp. 1-13 (Dewey's Introduction to the book) Y
Imperial Hearst Lundberg 081.2 DJ list includes Graves, I, Claudius, but not Woolf, To The Lighthouse. No other way to tell, sadly. N
Jurgen Cabell 015.2 Catalog dated to Spring 1934 (includes Caldwell, God’s Little Acre, but not Heyward, Porgy) Y
Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti Symonds 049.2 not enough information is available to determine which one is the first—see BookNotes for details Y
My War with the United States Bemelmans 175.2 printed on thicker paper without a list of titles inside the jacket N
New Grub Street Gissing 125.1 includes list of titles in the back; has 560 pages; first jacket has a Spring 1927 list (Hudson, Purple Land but not Hardy, Jude the Obscure Y
Notebooks, 1935-1942 Camus 349.1 first binding style 11 ?
Plague Camus 109.2 May 1961 ML list (has Camus, The Plague but not Mailer, Naked and the Dead; DJ shows 405 titles (NOT 403) Y
Plays Wilde 83.2 "New Modern Library Edition" retained through at least 1938, removed before 1946. Y
Point Counter Point Huxley 180.1 first binding style 5 Y
Restoration Plays Misc 287.1 Spring 1953 titles list (Gunther, Death Be Not Proud, but not Blake, Selected Poetry and Prose) Y
Statement removed after Spring 1958, no longer present in Spring 1962
Selected Writings Irving 240.1 Fall 1945 titles list (Irving, Selected Writings, but not Hersey, Bell for Adano) N
Selections from the Writings Paine 108.1 first binding style 2 N
Three Famous Murder Novels Misc G066.1 first binding style G5 ?
Thurber Carnival Thurber 085.3 first binding style 8; dust jacket lists 379 titles. No other way to tell, sadly. N
Young Lions Shaw, I 112.3 first binding style 8; dust jacket lists 380 titles. With no catalog in book, no other way to tell. Y
A #13 bound copy was observed to not have the slug.