“PASSAGES OF UNEARTHLY BEAUTY”: FIRST TRADE EDITION OF FINNEGANS WAKE
JOYCE, James. Finnegans Wake. London: Faber and Faber, (1939). Large octavo, original red cloth, uncut and unopened, original dust jacket. $5500.
First trade edition of Joyce’s “inscription on the walls of eternity.”
Finnegans Wake stands as "Joyce's last and most innovative prose work, written in a revolutionary narrative style that approximates the protean nocturnal dream world… [that gave] Joyce the freedom he needed to weave together archetypal and historical themes that embrace, among other things, the creation, the fall and the resurrection of humanity" (Fargnoli & Gillespie, 74). Joyce began writing Finnegans Wake in 1922, the same year Ulysses saw publication. Compared to that book, Finnegans Wake "took longer to write… was conceived and executed under a greater range of symbolic and mythic guidelines, was dictated to more famous amanuenses, among them Samuel Beckett, was used as a weapon of revenge by Joyce, who mocked in it the people who had offended him… in short, it was the inscription on the walls of eternity of James Joyce's feelings, his prejudices and his obsessions" (Arnold, 55). "Joyce insisted that each word, each sentence had several meanings and that the 'ideal lecteur' should devote his lifetime to it, like the Koran" (Connolly, The Modern Movement, 81). Published simultaneously with the signed limited first edition (British and American issues), which consisted of only 425 copies. Slocum & Cahoon 47. Bookplate.
Book fine, with slight offsetting to one front endpaper; bright price-clipped rare dust jacket near-fine with light rubbing to edges including a few small chips to top edge, very minor abrasion to front panel. A lovely copy.