Henry Schuman, 1950. 1950. Original pearl gray cloth (8 3/4 inches tall), cream endpapers, original dust jacket. Owner ink stamps to rear endpaper, top and bottom of text block, modest insect-wear to bright, unclipped jacket. Very good indeed. Item #1223
"THE STORY OF EASTER IS NOT SIMPLY A CHRISTIAN STORY"
First edition of Alan Watts's illustrated study of Christianity's most important feast—and its origins in man's ancient fascination with the cycle of death and rebirth. A pleasing copy in the scarce original dust jacket illustrated by Watts.
Easter: It's Story and Meaning was published in the same year that Watts would leave the priesthood (and the Church). Ordained as an Episcopalian priest in 1944, Watts received a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (later published as Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion) and was serving as the Episcopal chaplain at nearby Northwestern University. Besides the dust jacket, Watts also designed illustrated headpieces for each chapter—and a corresponding key ("Explanations to the Headpieces / drawn by the author")—which is placed after the short Preface ("Alan W. Watts / Evanston, Illinois / October 1949"). "It is true," Watts says, "that for more than fifteen hundred years the feast of Easter has celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But not only is the very name 'Easter' the name of an ancient and non-Christian deity; the season itself has also, from time immemorial, been the occasion of rites and observances having to do with the mystery of death and resurrection among peoples differing widely in race and religion." The text consists of 11 chapters: I. What is Easter?, 2. The Mysterious Egg, 3. Spring and the Sun Cycle, 4. The Gods Who Died and Rose, 5. The Ancient Mysteries, 6. The Lamb of God, 7. The Easter Calendar, 8. "He is Risen!" 9. A Thousand Years After, 10. Easter in Folklore, 11. The Secret of the Symbols. The book is also illustrated with a frontispiece ("The Resurrection / Albrecht Durer, 1510") and 5 additional black-and-white plates on the theme of the Resurrection. Designed by Marshall Lee and issued as part of the publisher's Great Religious Festivals Series, which also included studies of Christmas, Passover, and Thanksgiving. With an Index.