At Swim-Two-Birds

Price: 635.00 USD

New York: Pantheon, 1951. First Printing ("First published 1939" on copyright page, but actually 1951). 8vo: 316pp. Publisher's navy blue cloth spine lettered in yellow, yellow paper-covered boards titled in black, yellow typographic dust jacket printed in black and priced $3.00. Absolutely Fine, square, tight and bright (probably unread); Fine jacket slightly toned to flap folds. An absolutely exemplary example. The true first edition, published by Longmans in 1939, is a legendary rarity, though Graham Greene, comparing At Swim both to Tristram Shandy and Ulysses, had the text in mind when he called it "a book in a thousand." Burgess 99, p. 27. O'Nolan's first novel concerns a "student who is writing a novel about an author, also writing a novel, whose characters begin to write about him. The frame for At Swim's many narratives is an autobiographical portrait of the artist as a young student in 1930s Dublin. Like James Joyce's Stephen Dedalus [Joyce said At Swim contains 'the true comic spirit'], the student is fond of expounding his literary theories and puts them into practice in the manuscript he is composing. This manuscript forms the greater part of At Swim, but it is regularly interrupted by the student's 'biographical reminiscences' (and other digressions). . . . The result is a farrago of literary styles . . . The rationale behind this curious structure is impeccably modern (if not exactly modernist). While still in university, O'Nolan had collaborated with some friends on what they called a 'ready-made' novel, Children of Destiny. It was to be a novel produced by assembly-line, each contributor taking a chapter and filling it to the utmost with the fictional clichés that would guarantee a best-seller. Children of Destiny was never completed and did not survive, but At Swim-Two-Birds certainly inherited its cut-and-paste philosophy." (Literary Encyclopedia) "At Swim-Two-Birds is probably a masterpiece. . . . It is a very Irish book and very funny. But it still awaits the popularity it deserves." (Burgess) Note: With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. First American Edition. Fine.


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