"TO COUNTER… POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS PROPAGANDA; SENTIMENTALITY; AND STAGE-IRISH HUMOR": RARE ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF YEATS' 1891 REPRESENTATIVE IRISH TALES, VOLUME II, THE PERSONAL COPY OF ABBEY THEATRE ACTOR J.M. KERRIGAN
(KERRIGAN, J.M.) YEATS, W.B. Representative Irish Tales. Second Series. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Knickerbocker, (1891). Small octavo (4 by 5-1/2 inches), original gilt-stamped half blue cloth and floral paper boards, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, top edge gilt. $1000.
First edition of the concluding volume in Yeats' major early collection of Irish tales, issued along with same year's Volume I, featuring eleven tales chosen and edited by him, with his introductory essays, a memorable association copy belonging to the respected Dublin-born Abbey Theatre actor who went on to roles on Broadway and in film, with his inscribed, “J.J. Kerrigan, Hollywood, Cal."
Yeats chose the works in his two-volume Representative Irish Tales "to counter three of the major ingredients of 19th-century Irish fiction: political and religious propaganda; sentimentality; and stage-Irish humor." This first edition of Volume II highlights tragedy in tales such as Mulholland's "Hungry Death," "about a young woman's heroically unselfish deeds during a devastating famine," Griffin's "Death of the Huntsman," which contrasts "the nobility of the dying peasant and the shallow, drunken gentry," and Griffin's "Knight of the Sheep," with its Lear theme. To highlight Irish humor, Yeats selected tales that "convey a sense of energy and extravagance rather than mocking laughter": works such as: Kickham's "Pig-Driving Peelers," Lover's "Barny O'Reirdon," and the anonymous "Darby Doyle's Visit to Quebec"—each showing how "the fantastic actions of the Irish peasants ultimately succeed and get the best of the non-peasant characters."
Throughout, Yeats' goal was to "replace political and religious propaganda with social history, lugubrious sentimentality with deep passion, and stage-Irish humor with joy and tragedy" (Thuente, Foreword, 1979 edition). Yeats began working on his Representative Irish Tales "in the summer of 1889… he wrote the introductions to individual authors during the first two months of 1890… and it was published in two volumes, in March 1891, as no. 28 in the Knickerbocker Nuggets series" by G.P. Putnam's Sons (O'Donnell, William, ed. Collected Works of W.B. Yeats, Vol.VI). First edition, first printing: "Second Series" on title page; final text leaf with printed: "End of Vol. II." Wade 215. This memorable association copy contains the owner inscription of Dublin-born actor, Joseph Michael Kerrigan, known as J.M.Kerrigan, who was one of Abbey Theatre's most respected character actors, with key roles in plays by Synge, Lady Gregory, Yeats and O'Casey, After his debut as an actor and director in Irish silent films, Kerrigan also performed on Broadway while often returning across the Atlantic for more roles at the Abbey Theatre and on the London stage. On moving to Los Angeles, he appeared in films by John Ford and in Gone with the Wind, where he was Johnny Gallagher, an overseer in Scarlett's sawmill. Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he died in Los Angeles in 1964. Later owner bookplate of historian and scholar Milton McC. Gatch, Emeritus Professor and Director of Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary.
A fine copy.