London: Faber and Faber, 1939.
London: Faber and Faber, .
First edition. Large octavo (9 1/2 x 6 inches; 241 x 155 mm). , 628 pp.
Original red cloth. Spine ruled and lettered in gilt on two panels stamped in blind. Top edge stained orange-yellow, others uncut. Partially unopened. Slight toning to the first and last leaf as usual, and some very light foxing to endpapers. Maroon and yellow dust jacket. A small stain to the upper outer corner of pages 604-615. A small closed tear to front panel of jacket. Overall an about fine copy in an about fine jacket.
"The ordinary edition consisted of 3400 copies of which 2255 were sold to the public, 950 in the form of sheets being destroyed. The balance were gratis, etc." (Slocum and Cahoon).
Joyce's last and most revolutionary novel, Finnegans Wake was begun in 1922, with individual sections published as Work in Progress during the seventeen years of its composition. "Written in a dense, richly textured, and allusive style, whose punning, fragmentary quality mirrors the free-associating nature of the dreaming mind, the book is perhaps the definitive and most extreme work of literary Modernism. At once simple and complex, its narrative, which takes place in a single night but also incorporates the whole of human history, describes the relationships between Humphrey Chimpden Earwiker, an Everyman (H.C.E. translates as 'Here Comes Everybody') who is also Adam, his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle, who is Eve and also the River Liffey, their daughter Iseult/Isobel, and their twin sons, Shem and Shaun, who are also Cain and Abel...The work is divided into four sections, corresponding, amongst other things, to the four seasons of the year and the Four Ages of Man, and offers a kind of guided tour around the 'museyroom' of the past, as well as a condensed history of language itself" (The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English).
"If Finnegans Wake is a key book, it is a key which needs a key...The 'Wake' reminds me of the unfinished obelisk which lies on its side at Assuan, yet it has passages of unearthly beauty...and huge comic scenes. Joyce insisted that each word, each sentence had several meanings and that the 'idéal lecteur' should devote his life-time to it, like the Koran" (Connolly, The Modern Movement, 87).
Slocum and Cahoon A47.