“We'll meet again, we'll part once more”: First Edition of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake
Item Number: 96981
New York: The Viking Press, 1939.
First American edition, one of 6000 copies printed. Octavo, original cloth. A review copy with a letter from the publisher laid in, near fine in a near fine dust jacket. An exceptional example.
Joyce began working on Finnegans Wake shortly after the 1922 publication of Ulysses. By 1924 installments of Joyce's new avant-garde work began to appear, in serialized form, in Parisian literary journals transatlantic review and transition, under the title "fragments from Work in Progress". The actual title of the work remained a secret until the book was published in its entirety, on 4 May 1939. The work has assumed a preeminent place in English literature. Anthony Burgess praised the book as "a great comic vision, one of the few books of the world that can make us laugh aloud on nearly every page." Harold Bloom called the book "Joyce's masterpiece", and wrote that "[if] aesthetic merit were ever again to center the canon [Finnegans Wake] would be as close as our chaos could come to the heights of Shakespeare and Dante." Modern Library named it one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.