SKU: AM00314 Category:


Description: This wonderful small archive includes three issues of Contempo (including the Faulkner issue), as well as, two letters from Editor Abernathy to contributor Henry Hart highlighting the magazine’s editorial struggles.

Milton A. Abernethy and Anthony J. Buttitta were the initial co-editors of Contempo: A Review of Books and Personalities (1931). They popularized modernism in literary and visual art, incorporating several genres even as they published new and emerging writers. They split in 1932. William Faulkner, Ezra Pound and Langston Hughes were among the contributing editors. Ezra Pound asked to be dropped as a contributing editor as he was not inclined to align himself with the “standpoints” of some of the literature; the magazine was left leaning. Pound was dropped later. The two issues of Contempo, including the Faulker issue, and the two Contempo letterheads in this collection, however, list Pound among the contributing editors. The controversial copy of “Contempo” solely published by Buttitta on April 5, 1933, along with the two Abernethy letters written to Henry Hart, give some substance to the mystery surrounding the split between the two editors. In 1933, Abernethy took Buttitta to court and retained the rights to the name of the magazine.

The desirable William Faulkner issue of Contempo (1 Feb 1932 Vol 1, No 17) was the first among many issues that highlighted a single author, increasing the circulation of the magazine ten-fold, from 1000 to 10,000. The Faulkner issue features 9 of his poems–“the first that have been published in eight years”– and the short story, “Once Aboard the Lugger.” 4 pages of print in three wide columns, 11 7/16″ x 18 1/16″.

A second original issue of Contempo (June 15, Vol 11, No 3) features the poem, “Desire” by Langston Hughes and a graphic illustration, as well as, essays by the noted illustrator John Vassos and his wife Ruth Vassos. 8 pages of print in three wide columns, 12″ x 9 1/2″.

In the first letter, the angry Abernethy is tempted to run the entire “a/c of the Buttitta vs/Abernethy in the next issue of Contempo. . .” He adds, “Butttiatts [sic] is a bbbbbb that skipped out of Chapel Hill last summer and refused to pay his part of the Contempo debt and kept on refusing. . . .” while spending money to get “the name of Contempo registered in the patent office.” He asks Hart if he could have any letters in which Buttitta claims to be the sole owner, editor, etc., so that he could be stopped (Feb 16, 1933). In the second letter, Abernethy writes, “I hope you didn’t get excited about Buttitta’s contempo. . . I’m really ashamed to have ever been assoc with such a guy. . . , most of the material he has had has been withdrawn and the contributors that he listed have been giving him hell for using their names. . .” From the letters we also gather that Gerturde Stein and Virgil Geddes are contributors. Signed, 3 typed pages on ivory, 5 ½’x8 ½”, Contempo letterhead.

Buttitta’s “Contempo” magazine (April 5, 1933), which was sent to Henry Hart, is included. 16 pages, 9”x6”.  Item #AM00314

Milton Avant “Ab” Abernethy (1911? – 1991) was co-editor of Contempo, (May 1931 – Feb. 1934) along with Anthony Buttitta. After they split  in 1932, Minna Abernethy, his wife, took over as co-editor of the magazine. Together they ran an Independent Bookstore in Chapel Hill before they had to move to New York where Abernethy became a successful stockbroker.

Anthony J. Buttitta (Jul. 26, 1907 – Aug. 11, 2004) was the co-editor for Contempo (May 1931 – Mar. 1932). After splitting with Abernethy in 1932, Buttitta moved to Durham and began publishing his own version of Contempo. A subsequent legal battle awarded Abernethy the rights to the magazine.

Henry Hart was an American writer (Dr. Barnes of Merion, 1963) and publisher who worked as Publicity Director for Scribner’s Sons, Editor-in-chief of Putnam’s Sons, an Associate Editor of Time and Fortune, the founding member and first editor of Films in Review and a founding member of Equinox Cooperative Press. He edited the American Writer’s Congress (1935) and was responsible for the English-translation publications of Thomas Mann’s works.

Condition: Fold lines and light toning along edges of magazine. The June 15 issue has tears in a few spots along the right margin. Buttitta’s Contempo has fold marks on the right top corner. The Faulkner issue and letters are in good condition.