THE BREAD-WINNERS A SOCIAL STUDY. New York: Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, 1884. small octavo, pp. [1-5] 6-319 [320: blank], flyleaves at front and rear, original decorated green cloth, front and spine panels stamped in black, brown coated endpapers. First edition. This copy has "THE END" on page 319; copies of the first edition are found with and without the statement, priority, if any, not determined. This early American economic novel, Hay's solo effort at fiction, was written in 1882, published anonymously both as a serial in CENTURY MAGAZINE from August 1883 to January 1884 and here as a book, and never publicly acknowledged by its author. An anti-labor novel "in which the labor organization known as the Breadwinners is as violet and lawless as the historical Molly Maguires ... The story of the solution of a crime, a commonplace in fiction since the time of Poe, appears in John Hay's THE BREAD-WINNERS, in which the criminal is at the same time a leader of organized labor." - Taylor, The Economic Novel, pp. 110; 312. "The motive of THE BREAD-WINNERS is the defense of property against the 'dangerous classes;' its immediate theme is a satire of of labor unions ... It achieved a notable success -- far beyond that of [Henry Adams's] DEMOCRACY (1880); was warmly praised and sharply criticized; was replied to in other novels; all of which goes to show that it fanned the coals that were smoldering in the industrial life of the day, threatening a general conflagration. It was the first recognition on the part of literature that a class struggle impended in America -- a first girding of the loins of polite letters to put down the menace that looked out from the underworld of the proletariat; and as such it assumes importance as a historical document quite beyond its significance as a work of art." - Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought: The Beginnings of Critical Realism in America 1860-1920 Completed to 1900 Only, pp. 173-9. Blake, The Strike in the American Novel, pp. 212-3. BAL 7762. Wright (III) 2608. A fine copy. (#164612).

Price: $250.00

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