Friday, March 16, 2012

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh, or Happy St. Patrick's Day, to you! The holiday is tomorrow, and we wanted to mark the occasion by honoring the Irish authors in our midst. Have a look at our photo gallery below, and we hope you have a happy and safe St. Patrick's Day. Éire go Brách!

OLIVER GOLDSMITH. The Vicar of Wakefield. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham, this is one of 575 copies signed by the artist that comprised the English issue.

Goldsmith was born in Ireland in the mid-1700s, but he moved to London in his twenties and stayed there until his premature death in his mid-forties. The Vicar of Wakefield is his most famous work and tells the story of a Job-like vicar and the trials he and his family endure before their fortunes are ultimately restored. The novel was first published in 1766 and was very popular in the nineteenth century, earning mentions in many works of the Victorian era.

OLIVER GOLDSMITH? The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. A children’s miniature book dedicated “to all young gentlemen and ladies who are good, or intend to be good.” This is a reduced facsimile of the edition published by John Newbery, London, in 1766 and is illustrated throughout with numerous woodcuts. Measures 1 15/16 by 1 7/16 (48x36mm).

The source of the phrase "goody two-shoes," this moralistic tale tells the story of Margery Meanwell, a Cinderella-esque character whose virtuousness is eventually rewarded with happiness and wealth. The story has been attributed to Oliver Goldsmith, though Newbery himself is also likely.

SEAMUS HEANEY. Poems and a Memoir, published in 1982 by the Limited Editions Club. One of 2,000 copies, signed by the poet, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Flanagan, and Henry Pearson. Pearson illustrated the text with abstract relief engravings printed in brown, inspired by prehistoric Irish carvings, and Flanagan wrote the Introduction.

Heaney was born in 1939 in Northern Ireland, and in addition to writing poetry, he is also a playwright, translator, and former professor at Harvard and Oxford. His work often focuses on the life and culture of Northern Ireland, including the effect of "The Troubles" on the people and area. He has won many awards for his poetry, including the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, and he has been called the "most important Irish poet since Yeats."

JAMES JOYCE. Dubliners, published in 1914. First edition, one of approximately 746 copies that were bound.

Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, and though he moved to the Continent, where he lived for the rest of his life, his work remained focused on Dublin. When he first submitted his proposal for this collection of short stories, he wrote, "I do not think that any writer has yet presented Dublin to the world." However, Joyce was far from sentimental about the city, writing, "From time to time I see in publisher's lists announcements of books on Irish subjects so that I think people might be willing to pay for the special odour of corruption which, I hope, floats over my stories."

JAMES JOYCE. Chamber Music, published 1907. First edition, first issue of Joyce's first book. The first printing consisted of 509 copies; however, fewer than fifty copies of the first binding appear to have been issued and perhaps fewer than fifteen copies are extant.

Chamber Music was published only through the considerable efforts of Arthur Symons, the British poet and critic, whom Joyce had met through W. B. Yeats in 1902. Symons not only moved heaven and earth to find him a publisher who wouldn't require a subsidy, but he also wrote an extremely favorable review of the book in the Nation. Despite Symons' efforts and its favorable reception by Ezra Pound and Yeats, Chamber Music did not sell well, and only half of the first printing had sold after the first year.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW. Shaw Gives Himself Away: An Autobiographical Miscellany, published by the Gregynog Press in 1939. First edition, with a wood-engraved frontispiece portrait of Shaw by John Farleigh. One of twenty-one copies bound in full black-green leather to a design by George Fisher.

This collection of essays and extracts was edited by Shaw, who wrote a Preface to the edition in which he contends, "Now I have had no heroic adventures. Things have not happened to me: on the contrary it is I who have happened to the world; and all that happening has taken the form of books and plays. Read them or spectate them and you have my whole story: the rest is only leather and prunella, breakfast, lunch, dinner, buttoning and unbuttoning, sleeping and wakening and washing, my routine being just the same as everybody's routine." He goes on to say, "The autobiographical -- or pseudo-autobiographical -- sketches which follow therefore do not present me from my own point of view, of which I am necessarily as unconscious as I am of the taste of water in my mouth because it is always there. Instead of telling you what is peculiar about me I have told you what is typical about me, or what for some reason has been overlooked or misunderstood."

OSCAR WILDE. The House of Judgment. One of 150 copies. A miniature book measuring 2 5/8 by 2 1/16 inches (68x52mm) and printed in four colors after a calligraphed original by J. H. Moesman, an important contemporary Dutch surrealist.

Wilde's story is well known, from his birth in Dublin in 1854 to his popularity as a playwright and author in London before his trial and subsequent sentence to two years hard labor for "gross indecency" in 1895. During the height of his fame, Wilde was a sought-after dinner guest, and he frequently made up stories and poems to entertain guests at the parties he attended. "House of Judgment" is one such poem, first published in 1893 in The Spirit Lamp, an Oxford undergraduate magazine, and then in 1894 in The Fortnightly Review with five other poems in prose.

OSCAR WILDE. The Ballad of Reading Gaol. From an edition of 125 copies, this is copy number I of twenty-five specially bound in full morocco. Illustrated with six full-page wood engravings by Forster depicting "the macabre ritual of a judicial hanging."

This poem was written after Wilde had been released from prison in 1897, while he was in exile in France. It gives an account of a hanging that occurred while he was at Reading Gaol and was published under the pseudonym "C.3.3." (cell block C, landing 3, cell 3, Wilde's designation while at Reading). The poem was very popular, and Wilde's name was added to the title page after the seventh printing (approximately two years after the initial publication in 1898).

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS. John Sherman and Dhoya, published in 1891 under the pseudonym Ganconagh. First edition of Yeats' third book. Of an edition of 2000 copies, this is one of 356 that were bound in cloth. This novella and short story formed the tenth title in Unwin's "Pseudonym Library."

Though Yeats was born in Dublin to an Anglo-Irish family in 1865, he considered Co. Sligo to be his true home, and he fell in love with Irish folklore. These stories influenced his early writing, and in John Sherman and Dhoya, Yeats writes as Ganconagh, "The maker of these stories has been told that he must not bring them to you himself. He has asked me to pretend that I am the author. I am an old little Irish spirit, and I sit in the hedges and watch the world go by..." Yeats was the first Irish author to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature, and he was a major force behind the Irish Literary Revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS. Eight Poems by W B Yeats, published by FORM in 1916. One of 122 copies, containing "The Dawn," "On Woman," "The Fisherman," "The Hawk," "Memory," "The Thorn Tree," "The Phoenix," and "There Is a Queen in China."

By 1916 when this collection was published, Yeats's focus had shifted to the political and social issues in Ireland. This book was published just three months before the Easter Rising in Ireland, and just a few months more before Yeats wrote his famous poem, "Easter 1916," about the uprising. Yeats was appointed to the first Irish Senate in 1922 and again in 1925, but he retired in 1928 for health reasons. He died in 1939 in France, where he was buried, but according to his wishes, his body was moved to Co. Sligo, Ireland.

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