Signed, limited edition of this quintessential Jazz Age narrative poem by an early New Yorker editor and author of another of the era’s signature poems, The Wild Party (1926). Written in terse rhyming couplets, The Set-Up concerns an aging Black boxer, Pansy Jones, who is coerced into throwing a fight against a lesser opponent. Double-crossed by his manager, Jones revolts and wins the fight, only to be chased to his presumed death on the New York subway tracks. March was reportedly inspired to write the poem after a viewing of Negro Boxer, a 1927 painting by James Chapin. The Set-Up became a best-seller on publication, going through numerous early printings, and was later adapted into the 1949 Robert Wise film noir of the same name, although Wise chose to eliminate the poem’s racial commentary by making the main character white. This limited first edition, handsomely illustrated by Alexander King, is signed and hand-numbered by March on a limitation page at front.
NY: Covici Friede, 1928. First edition. Limited edition of 275 signed and hand-numbered copies, of which this is No. 156. Octavo (6.5 x 10 in.); 184pp.; patterned paper boards backed with tan cloth; paper spine label printed in red. About near fine, with mild bumping to the top corners and moderate shelfwear resulting in some loss of paper at the tips and along the bottoms of the boards. Previous owner’s bookplate on front pastedown. Lacking the original publisher’s slipcase.