Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bob Dylan's Legendary Tarantula Proofs Bite At $10,000

by Stephen J. Gertz

A copy of the pre-production uncorrected galley proofs of Bob Dylan's first book, Tarantula, has come to market. Spiral-bound in the original salmon-colored wrappers, it is being offered by Biblioctopus of Century City, California. The asking price is $10,000.

Why the hefty price tag? Tarantula was published in 1971. These proofs - of which only "a few copies" were produced, according to publisher Macmillan's press release - are dated 3 July, 1966 ("376") with "pub. date: Aug 1966 Price: $3.95 (tent.)" in holograph ink at the top of the front cover. In short, the proofs were printed five years before the book was actually published.

What happened?

Dylan's motorcycle accident happened.

Publication plans were in motion when Dylan had his fateful accident on July 29, 1966. Hospitalization and recovery surely distracted him but Dylan was never really committed to this collection of prose-poetry to begin with. 

"Things were happening wildly in that period," Dylan recalled to an interviewer in 2001. "I never had any intention of writing a book. I had a manager [Albert Grossman] who was asked: he writes all those songs, what else does he write? Maybe he writes books. And he must have replied: obviously, sure he writes books, in fact we're just about to publish one. I think it was on that occassion that he made the deal and then I had to write the book. He often did things like that."

Further movement on the book ground to a halt. 

Except from bookleggers, one of whom was in possession of a stolen copy of these proofs, photocopied it, and printed and published the result. Subsequent pirated editions (over a dozen) followed, each based upon third or later generation photocopies of that first pirated edition of these proofs.

First authorized edition, NY: Macmillan, 1971.

Here, then, is the fabled, earliest and scarcest of all editions of Tarantula in print, one of perhaps only 3-5 copies produced, eleven inches in height, seventy-eight pages in length, and $10,000 in cost.

here lies bob dylan
demolished by Vienna politeness -
which will now claim to have invented him
the cool people can
now write Fugues about him
& Cupid can now kick over his kerosene lamp -
bob dylan - filled by a discarded Oedipus
who turned
to investigate a ghost
& discovered that
the ghost too
was more
than one person

(From Tarantula, ©Bob Dylan).

View some of the Tarantula piracies here.

Images courtesy of Biblioctopus, with our thanks.

Of Related Interest:

Greetings From Bob Dylan On Highway 51.
Very Early Bob Dylan Song Manuscripts Surface.

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