THE SOT-WEED FACTOR. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960. Large octavo, cloth-backed boards. First edition. A satirical epic of the colonization of Maryland based on the life of an actual poet, Ebenezer Cooke, who wrote a poem of the same title. THE SOT-WEED FACTOR is what Northrop Frye called an anatomy -- a large, loosely structured work, with digressions, distractions, stories within stories, and lists (such as a lengthy exchange of insulting terms by two prostitutes). The fictional Ebenezer Cooke (repeatedly described as "poet and virgin") is a Candide-like innocent who sets out to write a heroic epic, becomes disillusioned and ends up writing a biting satire. The novel is set in the 1680s and 1690s in London and on the eastern shore of the colony of Maryland. It tells the story of an English poet named Ebenezer Cooke who is given the title "Poet Laureate of Maryland" by Charles Calvert. He undergoes many adventures on his journey to Maryland and while in Maryland, all the while striving to preserve his innocence (i.e. his virginity). The book takes its title from the grand poem that Cooke composes throughout the story, which was originally intended to sing the praises of Maryland, but ends up being a biting satire based on his disillusioning experiences ... In 1994, Barth said retrospectively that this novel marks his discovery of postmodernism: "Looking back, I am inclined to declare grandly that I needed to discover, or to be discovered by, Postmodernism." Boards rubbed along bottom edges, a very good copy in very good dust jacket (designed by Edward Gorey) with two closed tears at bottom edge of rear panel, mild dust soiling to rear panel, and clipped price. Overall, an attractive copy. (#155572).
First edition so stated on copyright page.