Bromfield, Louis: Night in Bombay
(researched by Saima Malik)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Louis Bromfield. Night in Bombay. New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers,1940. Copyright: Louis Bromfield
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American edition published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
182 leaves, [10]1-351[3]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Introduction to book in front fly leaf. Advertisement for 'The Provincial Lady in Wartime' by E.M.Delafield on back fly leaf. No editor. A list of books by Louis Bromfield faces the title page. Book dedicated to Jean White.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
No illustrations.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Excellent readability with comfortably sized margins and line spacing. Text not divided into chapters. The first letter of text is uppercase, bolded and larger type size than the rest of the text. Well printed. 83R. Book size: 145mm. by 216mm.; Size of text: 105mm. by 158mm.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Paper is thick and coarse. The quality is even throughout the book. Although it is yellowed, there seems to be no indication that the paper was once pure white. The pages are in good condition and there are no outstanding stains or tears. The edges of the paper are ridged. Although old, the paper is still strong due to good preservation.
11 Description of binding(s)
Trade cloth binding, embossed-linen grain, medium bluish black. Embossed 'HB' with image of one hand pasing torch to another on lower right hand side of cover. Golden rectangle with black lettering of title and author on spine. Binding protected by an illustrated paper jacket which is covered by a thin plastic jacket. Transcription of front cover (dust jacket): By the author of the THE RAINS CAME|NIGHT IN BOMBAY|LOUIS BROMFIELD|[illustration initialed J.C.W.]|HARPER & BROTHERS. ESTABLISHED 1817 Description of Illustration: There are six individuals; one behind, and the rest in front of a fountain. The two closest are Indians dressed lavishly and seated. Behind them, near a table with fruit and tea, a white woman stands between two men, holding a fan in one of her hands and extending her other arm to the man on her right, who has removed his hat. The last person, an indian, stands in the distance with his back towards them. The illustration is colored and initialed J.C.W. Transcription of the spine: NIGHT IN BOMBAY|[image of leaf]|LOUIS BROMFIELD|HARPERS
12 Transcription of title page
Title page transcription: NIGHT IN BOMBAY|by|LOUIS BROMFIELD|Harper & Brothers Publishers|New York and London|1940 Title page verso transcription: NIGHT IN BOMBAY|Copyright, 1939, 1940, by Louis Bromfield|Printed in the United States Of America|All rights in this book are reserved. It may not|be used for dramatic, motion or talking picture purposes without written authorization|from the holder of these rights. Nor may the|book or part thereof be reproduced in any|manner whatsoever without permission in|writing. For information address: Harper and|Brothers, 49 East 33rd Street, New York, N.Y.|5-0|FIRST EDITION|D-P|This story appeared serially|under the title of BOMBAY NIGHTS
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
n/a
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Tiny rectangular seal attatched to page facing front cover. Transcription: Hic Fructus Virtutis|[shield in tree]|[shield]|Clifton Waller Barrett. 30 letters, 1 autograph, 1 metal dog tag are held at the University of Virginia.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
There is one edition other than Harper's 1940 first edition. Title: Night in Bombay 1st ed. authorized edition for China Place: Shanghai Publisher: Kelly & Walsh, Ltd. Date: 1940 Authorized edition for China published by special arrangement with author and publisher, Harper & Bros., NewYork and London.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
N/A
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Grosset & Dunlap, 1939. Cassell, London edition, 1940. The Scherz, Phoenix Books, 1943. Bantam Books, New York, 1946. Penguin Books, New York and London, 1940 and 1950. Amereon Ltd., 1976. Aeonian Press, Mattituck, New York, 1980 and 1989.
6 Last date in print?
The latest date that the book was found to be in print is Aeonian Press, 1989.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
N/A
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
N/A
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Harper placed an two page ad in Publisher's weekly on April 13th using the success of his last novel, 'The Rains Came' as an indicator of the success the 'Bombay Nights' would predictably achieve. The illustration on the top half of the first page is the same as the cover of the first edition. 'Night in Bombay' is seen in large letters beside the illustration on the page facing it and 'Bromfield' goes across both pages through the center. The ad asserts that the book will be as big successfully as it is literally (165,000 words). The publication date of May 8th and the initial price of $2.50 are announced near the end of the ad.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
The publisher, anticipating an extremely successful novel launched a campaign which would include 'full-page ads in the N.Y. Times Book Review, the Herald Tribune Books and Harper's Magazine; big space in dailies in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco; and gooldy space in other recognized book media' as well as 'several kinds of posters and imprint postcards'.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Said to be produced as a movie by M-G-M in Publisher's Weekly (July 20th, 1940), but no further information regarding the movie, whether it was actually made or not, could be found.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
1) Title: Nacht in Bombay: Roman/ Louis Bromfield, Ubertragung aus dem Amerikanissen von E. von Kanel. Alt. Title: Night in Bombay, German Place: Gutersloh: Stuttgart: Wien: Publisher: Bertelsmann Richard Mohn; Europaische Bildungsgermeinschaft Verlags; Buchgemeinschaft Donauland, Kremayr und Scheriau. Format: 382 p: 20cm. Year: 19uu 2) Nacht in Bombay roman. Bern A. Scherz, [1941] 419 pages Authorized translation by E. von Kanel. 3) Noche en Bombay [version castellana: Santiago Valdanzo] Madrid, Ediciones "La Nave" [1944] Format: 457 pages 16cm 4) Notte a Bombay; versione di Giorgio Monicelli. Milano, A. Martello [1947]. Format: 409 pages 22cm. 5) Notti a Bombay, romanzo di Louis Bromfield. [Roma] Elios [1945] Format: 302 pages 18 1/2 cm. Traduzione di Luigi Somma. 6) Ejszaka Bombayben Place: Debrecen Publisher: Fabula Year: 1940 and 1943 Pub. Type: Book Format: 358p; 21cm. Alt. Title: Night in Bombay. Hungarian
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Serialized in Cosmopolitan as "Bombay Nights".
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are no sequels or prequels.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Louis Bromfield was born December 27, 1896 in Mansfield, Ohio to Charles and Annette Coulter Bromfield. Charles Bromfield, although he lived in the town, felt very strongly about the country. He bought abandoned farms in hopes of one day restoring them. He passed on this love of farm life to his young son, Louis. Growing up, Louis, his brother, Charles, and his sister, Marie, were encouraged to develop the love of literature that their mother possessed. In 1914, Louis Bromfield graduated from high school and due to financial problems, his family sold the house in Mansfield and returned to the farm. Louis Bromfield studied agriculture briefly at Cornell University and then transferred to Columbia University where he began to concentrate on a career as a writer. He quit in his first year to enlist in the army He served in World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre as well as the Legion of Honor. After the war, early in 1919, he returned to New York City where he worked as a reporter for the New York City News Service. In the next few years, he was the night editor with Associated Press, foreign editor of Musical America, drama and music critic for The Bookman for which he also wrote a column called "The New Yorker", assistant to producer Brock Permberton, and advising manager for G.P. Putnam's Sons. He was also writing novels at this time. He met and married Mary Appleton Wood during this time as well and they later had three daughters. By 1923, three of his books were rejected by publishers until his first novel The Green Bay Tree was accepted to be published in 1924. Bromfield was twenty-seven years old. In 1925, he moved to Senlis, France. In 1927, a couple of years after his first novel, he won the Pulitzer Prize for another novel, Early Autumn. He also won the O.Henry Short Story Award for The Scarlett Woman in 1929. Many of his books were made into movies, including The Rains Came and Mrs. Parkington. Every book that Bromfield wrote during his career was a bestseller. In 1933, when he was living in France, Bromfield visited India, a trip which, obviously inspired books such as The Rains Came and Bombay Nights. Bromfield lived in France for ten years and returned to Ohio in 1938. Bromfield loved the land and it seems as if this love of land and conservationism never died. When he returned to Ohio, he was a rich man. He bought three farms, ultimately acquiring a thousand acres near Lucas, in Pleasant Valley. Here, he built a 32 room country home in what came to be known as the famous Malabar Farm, which became an example of the joys and peace visible in farm life. Malabar Farm was the setting for Humphrey Bogart's wedding to Lauren Bacall. In his book Pleasant Valley Bromfield writes, "Every inch of it (the house) has been in hard use since it was built and will, I hope go on being used in the same fashion so long as it stands. Perhaps one day it will belong to the state together with the hills, valley sand woods of Malabar Farm." Between 1945 and 1955, Bromfield wrote about Malabar. His Pleasant Valley, Malabar Farm, Out of the Earth, From my Experience and Animals and Other People are all out of print now. Eventually, Bromfield got so involved in agriculture and the improvement of the modern world, that he stopped writing novels altogether. Louis Bromfield died prematurely in 1956, at the age of fifty-nine. In August 1972, the state of Ohio accepted the deed to Malabar Farm. In 1976, it became one of Ohio's state parks and is still visited by thousands of people each year.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Even before Night in Bombay was released, critics had anticipated it as a comparison to Bromfield's earlier novel about India The Rains Came. Most early advertisements as well as the covers of the novel had the title followed by a large By the author of The Rains came printed beneath. Night in Bombay did become a bestseller and there are several positive critiques in the beginning. The critics who seemed to have a complaint from the book spoke about the characters as not being 'real'. Initially however, critics overall did seem to enjoy the novel, and while it was not deemed as good as some of his other works, they seemed to accept it as another Bromfield bestseller. "Mr. Bromfield's capacity to handle the threads of his completely convincing story and at the same time to build into it a good deal of the life of India as travelers see it makes ?Night in Bombay' an informing as well as an engrossing tale. Sordid and sensational though it be in detail, he manages to end the novel on a rather high level of idealism because two excellent young human animals stand ready to make a completely unselfish gesture for love with a capital L." F.H.Bullock -Books p2 My 12'40 1250w "Mr. Bromfield is primarily a magnificent story-teller. He uses action, intrigue and even impish maliciousness to further his absorbing plot?As a literary masterpiece we would not rank ?Night in Bombay' with ?The Green Bay Tree;' or with ?The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg. Even so it is an enormously exciting and intoxication story." Olga Owens -Boston Transcript p1 My 11 '40 900w Cleveland Open shelf p11 My ?40 "Libraries that bought the earlier novel [The Rains Came] will doubtless want this. Not for the young adult." A.T.Davidson Library J 65:352 Ap 15 '40 130w Reviewed by Wifrid Gibson Manchester Guardian p7 Ag 2 '40 110w "'Night in Bombay' is a little phony and a little cheap-and under Mr. Bromfield's flawless direction it works like a charm. It moves with incredible case through the heat mists of India, from the garish splendor of the Taj Mahal Hotel to the showy race track to the filth of the mill workers' section and back again to the fantastic hotel. No wonder it also moves easily on to the best-seller list." Miriam Borgenicht New Repub 102:800 Je 10 '40 370w "Mr Bromfield has handled his numerous characters very ably; the reader is never in doubt as to their identity and their relations with one another. He has presented a group drawn together partly by chance, partly by natural attraction, and he has made each of them a living person, while around and about them, barely seen by most of tem and less understood, swarms the teeming life of India, its heat and filth and poverty and degradation." L.M. Field N Y Times p6 My 12 '40 900w Further Reviews: Book Readers Digest, 1940 Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 11
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Even before Night in Bombay was released, critics had anticipated it as a comparison to Bromfield's earlier novel about India The Rains Came. Most early advertisements as well as the covers of the novel had the title followed by a large By the author of The Rains came printed beneath. Night in Bombay did become a bestseller and there are several positive critiques in the beginning. The critics who seemed to have a complaint from the book spoke about the characters as not being 'real'. Initially however, critics overall did seem to enjoy the novel, and while it was not deemed as good as some of his other works, they seemed to accept it as another Bromfield bestseller. "Mr. Bromfield's capacity to handle the threads of his completely convincing story and at the same time to build into it a good deal of the life of India as travelers see it makes ?Night in Bombay' an informing as well as an engrossing tale. Sordid and sensational though it be in detail, he manages to end the novel on a rather high level of idealism because two excellent young human animals stand ready to make a completely unselfish gesture for love with a capital L." F.H.Bullock -Books p2 My 12'40 1250w "Mr. Bromfield is primarily a magnificent story-teller. He uses action, intrigue and even impish maliciousness to further his absorbing plot?As a literary masterpiece we would not rank ?Night in Bombay' with ?The Green Bay Tree;' or with ?The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg. Even so it is an enormously exciting and intoxication story." Olga Owens -Boston Transcript p1 My 11 '40 900w Cleveland Open shelf p11 My ?40 "Libraries that bought the earlier novel [The Rains Came] will doubtless want this. Not for the young adult." A.T.Davidson Library J 65:352 Ap 15 '40 130w Reviewed by Wifrid Gibson Manchester Guardian p7 Ag 2 '40 110w "'Night in Bombay' is a little phony and a little cheap-and under Mr. Bromfield's flawless direction it works like a charm. It moves with incredible case through the heat mists of India, from the garish splendor of the Taj Mahal Hotel to the showy race track to the filth of the mill workers' section and back again to the fantastic hotel. No wonder it also moves easily on to the best-seller list." Miriam Borgenicht New Repub 102:800 Je 10 '40 370w "Mr Bromfield has handled his numerous characters very ably; the reader is never in doubt as to their identity and their relations with one another. He has presented a group drawn together partly by chance, partly by natural attraction, and he has made each of them a living person, while around and about them, barely seen by most of tem and less understood, swarms the teeming life of India, its heat and filth and poverty and degradation." L.M. Field N Y Times p6 My 12 '40 900w Further Reviews: Book Readers Digest, 1940 Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 11
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
In 1940, Louis Bromfield's long awaited book Night in Bombay was published. The book was released to an audience who had come to recognize Bromfield among the leaders in the literary scene of the day. Bromfield had produced books like Early Autumn, which achieved a Pulitzer prize (1927), and Mrs. Parkington which was made into a movie soon after publication. The novel came to an audience who had read his earlier novel, The Rains Came, in which he first made use of the exotic Indian sub-continent as a backdrop for his plot, one which was also produced as a movie, and had received it graciously. Night in Bombay was an instant bestseller and stayed on the bestseller list for a considerable amount of time, but an analysis of both contemporary and subsequent critiques suggests that the book did not necessarily fulfill the expectations that had been attached to it as far as content is concerned: "..As a literary masterpiece we would not rank Night in Bombay with The Green Bay Tree or with The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg"(Owens, p.1). Bromfield was no stranger to bestsellers; every book that he wrote during his career was a bestseller. The major point of discussion here is that the success of Night in Bombay as a novel, had a lot more to do with the persona of the author, and the expectations of the audience that he catered to, than to the content of the novel itself. In simplest terms this novel, inspired perhaps by Bromfield's visit to India in 1933, is the story of Bill Wainright, a rich businessman from America, his college friend, Buck Merrill, a sick man who has devoted his life to helping the needy of India, and Carol Halma, and ex-beauty queen who was once married to Bill. Set in the hot, bizarre environment of India, the story unfolds as Bill finds himself falling in love with Carol again, while Carol and Buck fall in love with each other. This love triangle finds itself caught amidst corrupt Indian maharajahs and seductive foreign women whose lives are made up of drinking, gambling and deception. The major critical complaint with the content of the book at the time of publication seems to have been regarding the characters. A 1940 critical essay written by A Calder-Marshall, states that as far as the characters in Night in Bombay are concerned, there is "not a single human being...All are characters for the film." Clifton Fadiman, in the May 11th, 1940 issue of The New Yorker writes: "All the characters are vigorously overdrawn and would be readily understood and recognized by any nine-year-old who had not led too sheltered a life." Most subsequent reviews dealt with this same failing of the book: "Bromfield is not willing to allow his plot or his theme to grow out of his collection of characters: rather, he imposes characterization upon plot and theme..the result is an array of weakly presented character sketches..."(Anderson, p.115). But this is not the only negative criticism that the book has received. Some critics have gone so far as to say that the quality of the plot and theme is no better than that of the characters. Questions arise about reasons for the success of a book that seems to have failed with so many critics as far as content is concerned, yet reached best-seller status and retained that status for as long as it did. How could a book that would not be grouped with other 'literary masterpieces', indeed one that has been described as a 'weak book'(Anderson, p.116), become a best-seller? One of the few consistent facts about bestsellers is that the readers' expectations are influenced by the persona of the author. In the case of Night in Bombay there could not be a more illustrious, charismatic author. Louis Bromfield, by the time of the publication of this novel, had become something of a legend. He mingled with celebrities and the elite of France as well as America; something which is reflected in his choice of characters for Night in Bombay. His personality seemed to draw all sorts of people towards him. He had been compared to F.Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway. He is described as 'a large, energetic man with an outgoing personality and keen intellect'. He was an author in an era when everyone read and a movie playwright in a time when movies were beginning to charm the entire nation. To the average American, Bromfield led a celebrity's life: "Bromfield wrote by day and led an active social life in celebrity circles in New York and Hollywood by night, making friends with some of the best-known people of his generation. Entertaining, witty, and never afraid to speak his mind, Bromfield was recognized, celebrated and sometimes reviled for his powerful ego, explosive temper and forceful personality. Yet the wealthy and talented clamored to be at his side. Bromfield was a man who wanted to experience everything life offered. He spent money and traveled the world."(pbs.org) One aspect of Bromfield's personality that made people want to purchase his books, especially those about far-away countries, is that through them, he seemed to share his fantastic life with others. While they read Bromfield's books, they could catch a glimpse of what life was like for him, living the way he did, surrounded by the type of people who surrounded him. Because he traveled throughout the world, the average American could be where Bromfield had been, and see what he had seen, in his books: "..And downstairs on the ground floor there was a vast hallway and a huge stairway which led up and up into the heights of the big hotel. Through the hallway and the bazaar which occupied half its area, came and went a procession of Arab horsedealers, British Governors, and Civil Servants, Russian and German trollops, Indian princes, jewel merchants, Parsee millionaires, comic middle-aged tourists, gamblers, oil prospectors. The procession went on day and night, for in the heat of the city and with the fantastic character of many of the guests, the place was as alive at four in the morning as at midday." (Bromfield, p.51) Readers could have been attracted by Night in Bombay in the sense that it paints a very vivid picture of the India that Bromfield experienced: "They leaned over the rail looking at the city which had begun to appear out of the haze-the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Readymoney Building, the Yacht Club, the Gateway of India and the green eminence of Malabar Hill, dotted with bungalows and the palaces of the Maharajahs with the Towers of Silence at the foot of them all like the coffin which was carried among the guests at an Egyptian banquet. Life and death in India, more than anywhere else in the world, went hand in hand." Another reason people bought Night in Bombay was that every book Bromfield had written during his career had been a best-seller. In this way, he can be compared to the Stephen Kings and the Tom Clancys of today. Whenever readers are overwhelmed by the choices they have, they seek out the well-known best-sellers to be on the safe side. Since every book Bromfield ever wrote was a best-seller, readers came to associate his name with best-sellers and expect nothing but best-sellers from him and so they bought his books. Thus the cycle continued. In this way, Louis Bromfield's persona and popularity led to high sales of Night in Bombay. The publisher of any book, especially one with bestseller potential, attempts to ensure the sales of that book prior to publication. Besides some factors, such as the author's popularity, which are a natural endorsement for the novel, several tactics are utilized in order to guarantee that the book will have an audience. An observation of the campaign that the publishers launched prior to the release of Night in Bombay reflects the confidence that they had in the inevitability of this novel's success. Publisher's Weekly describes the 'full-page ads in the N.Y.Times Book Review, the Herald Tribune Books and Harper's Magazine; big spaces in dailies in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco' as well as 'several kinds of posters and imprint postcards' that were part of the campaign. The expectations regarding this novel were indeed very high. It seems as though even before the book was published, the masses were preparing themselves for a comparison with The Rains Came, precisely according to the publisher's design. The two page ad that Harper placed in the April 13th edition of Publisher's weekly, presented Bromfield as 'the author of The Rains Came, which clearly told the readers 'if you liked that, you'll like this'. A similar tactic was used in the designing of the front cover of the first edition. Nearly every mention of Night in Bombay prior to publication contains mention of The Rains Came. Given the success of the latter, the former was sure to benefit. People were definitely going to buy the new Bromfield story that takes place in India, based on the quality and success of the earlier Bromfield story that takes place in India. It makes one wonder whether the book would have fared as well had it not had the earlier novel to lean on. Thus through advertising the publishers created an environment of anticipation about the book, and the readers reacted just as they should have, having certain strong expectations from the book and awaiting publication so that they could buy one as soon as it was released. This is another way in which sales for Night in Bombaywere secured. There is no such thing as a 'typical' bestseller. In fact, in order to be a bestseller, a book must be something out of the ordinary. While there is no set formula for a bestseller, there are certain factors that bestsellers might have in common. Sometimes, it is these factors, rather than the content of the book itself that assist it in reaching the bestseller list. Such is the case with Louis Bromfield's Night in Bombay. One may compare it to other works by Bromfield as well as study critiques of the book and deduce that the quality is not at the same level as that of these other works. More than the content of the book, it is the persona of Louis Bromfield and the expectations of the readers brought about by advertising as well as by the fact that the author was Bromfield, that carried this book into the bestsellers list. Sources: Anderson, D. David. Louis Bromfield. Twayne Publishers, NewYork, 1964. Bromfield, Loius. Night in Bombay. Harper Brothers, New York and London,1940. Http://www.malabarfarm.org/page20.html http://www.pbs.org/wosu/bromfield/ Book Review Digest, 1940. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. II Publishers Weekly, 1940.
Supplemental Material
'The Man Who Had Everything': http://www.pbs.org/wosu/bromfield/ Books about Louis Bromfield: http://www.malabarfarm.org/page19.html Books written by Louis Bromfield: http://www.malabarfarm.org/page20.html Movies written by Louis Bromfield: http://www.malabarfarm.org/page21.html
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