First Edition of BEHOLD THIS WOMAN (1947), by David Goodis. A rare presentation copy, inscribed to his secretary at Warner Brothers.
Behold This Woman is Goodis’ most autobiographical novel, a bizarre paean and cathartic payback to his estranged wife, Elaine Astor. The book was commercially successful, but more importantly, Goodis used the novel to lay the foundation for the type of woman his male protagonists would become entangled with; think Mommy Dearest meets The Black Widow. The novel tells the story of Clara Ervin, a manipulative, calculating, and cold-blooded woman who systematically emasculates and ruins her husband, as well as several other men, before meeting a violent death. To some degree, she embodies many characteristics of Goodis’ wife Elaine, a central character in his life and the person who, ultimately, dealt him a piercing blow from which he did not recover for the remainder of his days. Books inscribed by Goodis are extremely rare; we know of but a handful of examples which have come to the market, nearly all of which were inscribed to people Goodis worked with at Warner Brothers, during some of the happier times in his life. The recipient was a much-loved secretary at Warner Brothers, working there well into her 70’s. An attractive copy of the author’s fourth hardcover book, and the only inscribed copy of this title we have seen or handled.