December 2, 2014

Dec 2

Little Murders

Jules Feiffer


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SOLD: $3,500

First edition inscribed and triply signed: first: “To Leonard Lyons – Forgive the language, but it’s Christmas not Passover! Jules Feiffer Xmas ’69.” Then again, with an extensive note on the flyleaf, “Jules Feiffer Xmas 2013.” And at the end, “Jules Feiffer 2014.” In his 2013 annotation, Feiffer explains the first inscription: a light-hearted, even grateful response to the noted critic Leonard Lyons, who accosted Feiffer on the opening night of this play—“the first play on Broadway,” Feiffer points out, “to use the word `shit’”—and “shouted in my face: `How dare you use language like that on the second night of Passover!” Feiffer, who up to that point was demoralized as he watched “an unhappy audience stream out of the theater, having seen a poor production of a play I had high hopes for,” embraced the furious Lyons and said, “Leonard, thank you for saving my night.” Little Murders closed after just seven shows. But the Royal Shakespeare Company also staged a production. The book also includes reproductions of Feiffer’s correspondence with the Lord Chamberlain’s office—the censor—who demanded that “shit” be replaced with “dog crap.” A substitution that Feiffer found “acceptable but vulgar.” A 1969 Off-Broadway revival at Circle in the Square was a success, lasting for 400 performances. The play was later adapted into a film starring Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland in 1971. Feiffer’s first play, beautifully—and extensively–illustrated by the author.

FEIFFER, Jules (b. 1929). Little Murders. New York: Random House, 1968. 8°. Original illustrated wrappers, with 26 original ink drawings throughout the text.



© Arnold Van Deuren

Jules Feiffer is one of the most influential cartoonists in the last half of the twentieth century. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartoons (1986) and an Academy Award for his animated short, Munro (1961). In 1967, his first play, Little Murders, was the first American production to be performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, where it won the Best Foreign Play of the Year Award. Feiffer’s screenplays, Carnal Knowledge and Popeye, have been credited with launching the careers of Jack Nicholson and Robin Williams.