Notes: A late stage carbon copy typescript, with handwritten corrections, of a crime novel published by Arcadia House in 1953. A comparison with this typescript and the published book offer interesting insights into Derleth's revision process. The novel features private detective Cyrus Flater.
This carbon-copy typescript (with a ribbon-copy title sheet and page of additions) appears to reflect a near-final edit, with minor changes to language (and a character's name) and an effort to tighten the prose by deleting words and the occasional sentence. The changes become more frequent as the book nears its conclusion, as Derleth refined the pacing of the ending. He rewrote a few passages and typed the additions on a separate sheet, with the locations of the insertions keyed to the text with circled letters.
A comparison of the typescript with the finished book reveals that Derleth made significant revisions after completing this typescript, in addition to changing the title and dropping the chapter names. The changes continue the shortening of the story evident in the handwritten revisions to the typescript. Derleth cut lines and even paragraphs from the typescript. One speculates that perhaps Derleth's editor at Arcadia House pushed him to shorten the novel. The published book is about 45,000 words. The cover sheet of the typescript indicates Design for Death was a 60,000 word novel. By your cataloguer's rough count, it was closer to 50,000 words, suggesting some 5,000 words were cut between the typescript and the published book.
219 leaves plus four blanks, complete. [1; 2 blank leaves; 1]; –217; [insert leaf]; [2 blank leaves]. Pagination skips leaf 58 but the text is continuous, with a hypenated word spanning leaves 57 and 59.
August Derleth (1909–1971) founded Arkham House, an independent press well-known for its supernatural fiction. He also wrote a hundred or so books, many of them set in his native Wisconsin, like this novel set in Sac Prairie.
Edition + Condition: Very good. The typescript was stapled along the left edge but the staples were removed leaving loose onion-skin sheets. The holograph changes are in pencil, probably in Derleth's hand, but since most of the changes are deletions with a word or two here and there added by hand, it is difficult to say definitively that Derleth made the changes. However, the nature of the changes are not those of a copyeditor and Derleth is the likely source of the revisions. A copy of the finished book (first edition; very good; no dust jacket) can be supplied on request.
Substantial Derleth manuscripts are uncommon in the trade.
Publication: (ca. 1952).
Item No: #361891