Well, admittedly, that’s an overly dramatic title. But my son is turning fourteen and I have been working on Dad jokes, and bad puns fall well with that range (as this one will). And I can’t leave out cool forty-something old man street lingo. Fshizzle.
I did, however, have a cool find, if not a miraculous one. I managed to pick up a first UK edition, third impression of the 1947 version of C.S. Lewis’ Miracles for $20 CDN ($15 USD/£12 GBP)–about half the price of what I would normally expect to get shipped to my house on the edge of this continent. My copy is, as you might expect, just in fair to good condition. The dust jacket is in bad shape, but it is hard to find them at all from the era. And it has left the book in good condition, with some yellowing on the top edge but with clear, crisp pages. I collect Lewis first editions only for the words, so this is a great find for me.
This picture shows the printing history, the dedication to the Harwoods (important to Lewis’ spiritual development), and the only book markings. I do like having the dust cover, which shows fine reviews on the inside flap and back cover, including glowing notes from The Spectator, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, TLS, and The Expository Times. We can also see the growing list of Lewis’ works, showing his strong wartime production. It shows The Screwtape Letters going into its 20th printing, and a large run of The Great Divorce at 50,000 copies, which is usually viewed as a soft seller. I wonder if this is the first time we see C.S. Lewis’ signature on display as part of his “brand.” I don’t know when this signature began circulating, but this is long before Narnia and really before Lewis was more than an interesting British controversialist and Christian broadcaster. Note how similar it is to signature used by the “Signature Classic” series issued by HarperOne:
The three pamphlets–Broadcast Talks, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality–will become Mere Christianity in 1952. And this book, Miracles, will go through an abridgement and rewriting of the third chapter in the late 1950s, so that your copy of Miracles is likely a second edition and somewhat different than this one. In looking at this first edition I saw that there is an error in the printing of this edition of Miracles: A Preliminary Study. Here is the Table of Contents:
And the page numbering of Appendix B is also wrong:
I doubt this will drive up the price much, unfortunately. Frankly, I’m keeping the book so valuation doesn’t matter much. An even bigger miracle in Lewis book finds was a true 1st UK edition of The Great Divorce in good condition, which I got for $2 at a library fundraiser. I have also managed to get The Problem of Pain, OHEL, A Preface to Paradise Lost, Surprised by Joy, and Spenser’s Images of Life at various used stores for almost nothing. None of these are great condition collector books, though finding Lewis’ third letter collection for $40 was close. But they allow me to work in the first edition text without much cost. Not miracles in book-finding terms, but kind of fun!