Retro Marquand

John P. Marquand’s first novel, The Unspeakable Gentleman, is available in its entirety online. The novel was Marquand’s first attempt to break out of the slick romantic stories he had been writing. According to Millicent Bell’s Marquand: An American Life, Marquand’s agents had sent it along to Ladies’ Home Journal to be printed in four installments. By Marquand’s own admission, “I think it is pretty damned bad, but I wish you would undergo the strain of looking at it, if you can. Bad as it is, I’ve seen Scribner’s use worse.” Whether the tale of “duels, galloping horses, midnight escapades and lots of good red wine” was intended as a send-up or not remains a mystery. But as Bell notes, Marquand composed some preposterous ad copy for his own novel: “‘The hour is growing late. Put down the pistol, Henry.’ So spoke the Unespeakable Gentleman on that evening a hundred years ago, as he leaned across a table in the firelight, but his words were not obeyed.”

(Thanks, Stacy!)

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