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Antin, Mary.

Promised Land, The.


An Inscribed First Edition Of
One Of The Most Important Jewish Autobiographies
Antin, Mary. The Promised Land. With Illustrations from Photographs. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912.
8vo.; frontispiece photograph; 17 photographs throughout; seven page Yiddish and Hebrew glossary bound in at rear; blue cloth; elaborately stamped in gilt with the Statue of Liberty; front hinge tender; spine lightly tipped; front cover lightly worn with some discrete faded spots.
An intimate presentation copy, inscribed by Mary Antin on the first blank: To Mrs. Charles B. Perkins/who interpreted my/own work to me -/and found me a /short-cut into the/editor's heart./Affectionately,/Mary Antin/April 20 1912. Loosely laid in is a peculiar flyer, also inscribed and annotated by Antin, which is apparently linked to an upcoming ceremony at a local school. The flyer is one leaf folded to make four pages; the first page features an illustration of the Statue of Liberty (an allusion to Antin's kinship to Emma Lazarus) with printed text: "Mr. And Mrs. Israel Antin And Family To", followed by, in Antin's hand: "Mr. And Mrs. Chas. B. Perkins." The interior of the flyer also features a mixture of printed text and Antin's autograph; dated Dorchester, Massachusetts, April 22, 1914, Antin invites her Dear "friends" to a family reunion celebrating the family's time in America at the High School of Practical Arts (a printed order of exercises fills the third page). On the second page (which features the Dear "friends" invitation), Antin has signed her name and written below it: "I hope to see you before May 8!" The fourth page prints the poem "America" ("My country, 'tis of thee," etc.)
An inscribed first edition of one of the most important Jewish autobiographies (UJE, Vol. 1, p. 269). In her earlier book, From Plotzk to Boston (1899), Antin told the story of her journey to America. In The Promised Land she constructs a more sweeping narrative, relating her experiences as a Jew in Russia and America, offering an integrated tale of her coming of age and her acceptance of heritage and community. The Promised Land (subtitled "The Autobiography of a Russian Immigrant" on its dust-jacket) is dedicated to Josephine Lazarus, essayist and older sister of Emma. The book's design, with its Statue of Liberty motif stamped on the cover, pays tribute to Emma Lazarus's famous sonnet "The New Colossus," the final lines of which ("Give me your tired, your poor...") are inscribed on the statue's pedestal. The Promised Land was used as a national civics textbook for nearly four decades; even today, it is one of the most widely read immigrant histories.
We have not been able to track down the volume's recipient, Mrs. Charles B. Perkins, but she was obviously a close friend of Antin's and integral to the production of this volume.

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