"PASSAGES OF UNEARTHLY BEAUTY": SIGNED LIMITED FIRST EDITION OF FINNEGANS WAKE, THE COPY OF ANGELA'S ASHES AUTHOR FRANK MCCOURT
JOYCE, James. Finnegans Wake. London and New York: Faber & Faber and The Viking Press, 1939. Large octavo, original red cloth, top edge gilt, uncut and mostly unopened, original yellow slipcase. $25,000.
Signed limited first edition, American issue, of Joyce's "inscription on the walls of eternity," number 312 of only 310 large-paper copies for America (of a total edition of 435 copies) signed by Joyce in green ink. The copy of acclaimed Irish-American author Frank McCourt.
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, The Scandal of Ulysses, 55). "'Anna Livia' and other fragments… had been circulating in little magazines and slim volumes since 1925… 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 87). Published simultaneously with the first trade edition and the signed limited first edition, British issue of 125 copies; the Viking Press "brought out and sold [this] limited edition of 310 copies [although the limitation page states only 300], the sheets of which were imported from the English publisher Faber & Faber. [The Viking] limited edition is identical with that of the British publisher and bears both imprints" (Slocum & Cahoon 49). The copy of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, sold to him by Bauman Rare Books in 1998. McCourt once wrote, "Over the years we've aged, the hair whitening or graying, and many of us have long passed the age at which Joyce died, fifty-eight. Joyce's work has liberated many an artist while his life stands as a lesson to us all. He suffered greatly: the growing failure of his eyes, the growing madness of his daughter. All his days he skirmished for pennies, and fought pitched battles for his art. He was a family man, fiercely tribal, and we must not forget he was driven by love" (Frank McCourt, Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes: A Celebration of James Joyce, Ulysses, and 100 Years of Bloomsday, xiii).
Book with interior quite nice, slightest soiling to front board, and mildest toning to spine. Slipcase with light wear and soiling. A lovely nearly fine copy with wonderful provenance.