Finnegans Wake. Pre-Publication Copy (1939)
Book ID: 66589
Finnegans Wake. London: Faber, 1939. First Edition. Publisher’s maroon paper boards, lettered in yellow. Minor hairline cracks at head & tail of joints, otherwise a fine bright copy. Housed in chemise & quarter leather slipcase.
The standard trade issue in an unusual & apparently hitherto-unrecorded binding of maroon paper boards which replicate the outer panels of the trade issue dust jacket. Probably produced as an early review or advanced copy, by Faber in the course of the normal publishing process – albeit a truly scarce one. No similar copies have been located in primary references, exhibition & sale catalogues, or institution holdings so far.
The first trade edition was published in plain red cloth boards with the title lettered in gilt to spine, & issued in a maroon coloured dust jacket lettered in yellow. Faber also published a numbered limited edition, signed by Joyce, bound in red buckram boards & housed in a yellow cloth slipcase. Textually & in terms of paper size this paper bound copy is identical to the cloth bound English trade edition, measuring 248 x 155 x 35mm.
Published two years before the author’s death, this is Joyce’s final novel, appropriately all-embracing, bewildering in content, and with a language that is often mellifluous and at the same time inaccessible by any standard measure of denotation. Joyce has said that a person could profitably devote a lifetime to “Finnegans Wake.” Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellman observed, “In his earlier books Joyce forced modern literature to accept new styles, new subject matter, new kinds of plot and characterization. In his last book he forced it to accept a new area of being and a new language.