RARE PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF VIRGINIA WOOLF'S THE WAVES, INSCRIBED BY WOOLF TO HOGARTH PRESS EMPLOYEE JANET STRACHAN
WOOLF, Virginia. The Waves. London: Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at The Hogarth Press, 1931. Octavo, original purple cloth, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $45,000.
First edition, presentation/association copy, of Woolf's most experimental and ambitious novel, exploring "the fluidity of human personality rather than its fixity," inscribed to a valued employee at Woolf's Hogarth Press, clerk-typist Janet Strachan: "Janet Strachan from Virginia Woolf. Oct. 1931," in the scarce dust jacket designed by Vanessa Bell.
"Woolf was impelled by her own 'vision of life' to emphasize the fluidity of human personality rather than its fixity… Waves is the nearest of all the novels to poetic drama, the supreme achievement of an exquisite and enriching genius" (Joan Bennett). It is "her most experimental novel in which a group of 'early Bloomsburies' with qualities amalgamated from Keynes, Strachey, Vanessa Bell and Desmond McCarthy… are halted in a series of close-ups at various stages of their lives while their thought-trains are recorded" (Connolly). "There is no attempt to differentiate the speech patterns the six friends; their individuality is presented through a highly patterned sequence of recurring phrases and images, and what we learn of their daily lives, we learn obliquely. The organization of the novel is highly formal: the main text is introduced and divided by sections of lyrical prose describing the rising and sinking of the sun over a seascape of waves and shore… It is the most intense and poetic of all her works" (Drabble, 1050). As with all of Woolf's books, the jacket design is by her sister, Vanessa Bell. Kirkpatrick A16a. Connolly, Modern Movement 70. Recipient Janet Strachan was one of seven or so clerks and assistants at the Hogarth Press in the 1930s: "Supporting the able and experienced women managers West, Lange, and Nicholls during these years were a bevy of clerk-typists… the Misses Bevan, Crabbe, Griffiths, Perkins, and Strachan… They, with the manager, were the backbone of the Hogarth Press during difficult and eventful years" (Willis, Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers, 294-95).
Text clean, purple cloth bright and fresh, with just a touch of discoloration at the spine ends. Scarce original dust jacket with only one shallow chip to lower corner of front panel, but clean and lovely, far nicer than often found. A beautiful, near-fine, and quite desirable presentation/association copy.