Frederic Prokosch was born in 1908 in Madison, Wisconsin and died in 1989 in Plan de Grasse in the Alpes Maritimes in France. He studied at Haverford College, Yale and King's College, Cambridge. He was an instructor at Yale from 1932 t0 1934 and served as a cultural liaison for the American Legation in Stockholm during World War II. After the war, he settled in Rome and became a lecturer at the University of Rome. The author of 16 novels, four books of poems, a memoir, a book collector himself, and a publisher in his own right of limited edition pamphlets, he was considered a master of his craft from 1935 onward. Prokosch impressed such 20 Century literary lions as Thomas Mann, Andre Gide, T.S. Eliot and Albert Camus and from my limited recent experience his writing remains fresh and relevant today.
|A Selection of the Butterfly Books published by F. Prokosch |
The lack of attention to Prokosch now suggests that he is more a forgotten rather than revered 20th Century American author. I've started reading the 9 novels I have in my private library and so far, I am impressed and enjoying the effort. In fact, I remain frustrated that the nine books I own, are in poor condition and a nagging voice in my head tells me that to honor, both my Uncle and Prokosch, I ought to set about collecting fine condition copies! Yet another want list to create but first, I'll simply enjoy his writing. If you are interested in collecting Prokosch I'll list a few highlights which I believe would create a enjoyable reading experience and a fine set of books to add to your library.
The Asiatics, by Frederick Prokosch, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and London, 1935 was his first published novel. Sometimes referred to as the first, geographical novel, Prokosch presents a rousing and original introduction to all things Asiatic via a fictional travelogue, Lebanon to Hanoi. Since only a few first edition, first printing copies are availablea more recent paperback edition has been published by Macmillan with an introduction by Pico Iyer and would be a fine reading copy.
|The mass market 1956 paperback release of A Tale for Midnight|
I'm now reading Nine Days to Mukalla, by Frederic Prokosch, Viking, New York, 1953 (Seckler and Warburg, London, 1953). In the aftermath of a plane crash, four travels brave the seas and sands trying to get from an unnamed island in the Indian Ocean to Mukalla, Yemen where they hope to continue to their original destinations. The experiences of the four (2 American men, 2 British woman) on the way to Yemen is filled with ancient fears and modern cultural differences. So far, I'm hooked and the mass market paperback cover suggests that starting small Prokosch first edition paperback release collection would be amusing!
|Avon T series, # T-090, 1st Paperback Edition|
(As soon as I have time, I'll create a page with a complete listing of published novels and poems by Prokosch with links to available copies.)