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Last year, I did a post on William Faulkner where I admitted not having read anything by this American writer. Lo and behold! I bought another book written by Faulkner, I do not seem to be able to escape this author! Fortunately, I can honestly admit that I bought this particular edition of Faulkner’s book titled Sanctuary not because I love this author, per se, but because the dust jacket for this edition is designed, signed and dated 1940 by McKnight Kauffer, in superb shape. The cover represents the book’s main character who is not a very appealing personality.

I liked the association of a famous writer, William Faulkner and the illustrator McKnight Kauffer. The book was published around the same date (1940) as the D.W. Griffith film master’s exhibition catalog of the Museum of Modern Art. (shown at the end of this post) for which MCKK, the initials for McKnight Kauffer designed the cover. In this post, the reference to the MOMA catalog makes a bit more sense when you know a movie was made after the Sanctuary book.

The book binding, in blue and red, has like all books, published by Random House in the Modern Library Series, the torchbearer logo especially designed for them by Lucian Bernhard, the German type font designer, better know for his poster design. The logo is repeated on the title page as well.

This particular edition, published in 1940, with a foreword by Faulkner, is a revised edition of the first one published in 1931 that does not have the Faulkner foreword. The book is considered a rather controversial book describing a violent story made into a movie with the title “The Story of Temple Drake”. The best place to learn more about Faulkner is found at the University of Michigan in the Special Collections Library where they have amassed a vast holding of anything to do with Faulkner. I highly recommend visiting their site.

The following eloquent description of the movie, for you movie buffs, is from that site:

William Faulkner. Sanctuary // The Story of Temple Drake. [Poster.] [N.p.]: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 1961.

“In September 1932 Paramount bought the film rights to Sanctuary. The book had become quite popular, perhaps because a superficial reading gave the reader a sensationalistic tale full of horror and suspense and sexual abnormalities. A closer reading, of course, offered thought-provoking implications concerning the nature of terror, injustice, and responsibility, to oneself as well as to others.

The first film version, entitled “The Story of Temple Drake,” was released in May 1933. It toned-down the more deviant behaviors and included a completely new scene at the end, but did manage to retain most of the suspense of the original story. The screenplay, written by Oliver Garrett, changed the plot in certain key elements, especially with regard to Temple. In the novel, Temple commits perjury, causing an innocent man to be found guilty of her rape and the murder of Tommy, the mentally retarded handy man who had tried to protect her. In the film, Temple kills Trigger (Popeye in the novel), and her testimony at the trial suggests the beginning of her moral regeneration, a process that Faulkner explores in the sequel, “Requiem for a Nun.”

The poster advertises the 1961 Twentieth Century-Fox version of Sanctuary in which the plots for the earlier version and “Requiem” are merged into a single story. The film was directed by Tony Richardson, the same man who had staged Requiem in London, and produced by Richard Zanuck, the son of Darryl Zanuck, for whom Faulkner had worked in the 1930s.”

The Sanctuary book was printed in other editions, in different dust jackets less interesting than the design above, and these are visible on Google images here.

Looking at the dust jackets here, you will realize that collecting books with an immaculate dust jacket is a very hard task today when you compare the dust jacket pictured here and the ones on Google images. How much more love for the art of the book and its integral modern part, the dust jacket can I emphasize to you at this point?

If you would like to read the other Faulkner post and the one on McKnight Kauffer follow the links. I have also posted a link here to a German Institution where you will find the important design work done by Lucian Bernhard. Last but not least, for the lovers of the Modern Library books, there is a link here as well. The Modern Library books published, and there were approximately 800 different ones, made important contributions to the spread of mid-century literature. A well made book at a reasonable price, quality outside and quality inside. Sounds like a good motto to me.

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