New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922. Octavo, measuring 9.5 x 6.25 inches: , 456, . Original dark green cloth lettered in gilt, top edge stained green, other edges uncut, some signatures unopened. Ink presentation inscription from James Joyce to his brother Stanislaus on front free endpaper; a few words in Joyce’s hand, indecipherable, on rear pastedown. Occasional pencil annotations. Bookplate of Alexander Neubauer to front pastedown. Hinges split, closed tear to page 405, lightest shelfwear. Housed in a custom chemise and slipcase.
“New Revised Edition” of Ernest Boyd’s classic survey of the Irish literary revival, the first to include James Joyce as a subject, inscribed by Joyce to his younger brother. Boyd published the first edition of Ireland’s Literary Renaissance in 1916. Moving away from celebrated Anglo-Irish writers like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, Boyd focused on the late nineteenth-century revival of interest in Celtic history, folklore, and mythology, with three chapters on William Butler Yeats at the center. Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man were already well-known to serious readers on both sides of the Atlantic, but Boyd dismissed Joyce’s writing in a single line: “curious studies of lower-class city life.” His decision to write Joyce out of Irish literary history was noted by critics like John Quinn, who expressed his hope that “Joyce would be given a separate chapter in a second edition” (Kiely, “The Go-Between,” 27). In this revised edition of 1922, Boyd admits Joyce (and his experimental new novel Ulysses) to the modern Irish literary pantheon, although he characterizes fiction as “the weak point of the revival.” Writing in the wake of the Easter Rising and Bloody Sunday, Boyd notes that the recent political turmoil has distracted the Irish from literary concerns altogether: “There is no sign of the influence of James Joyce in his own country, although his daring technique has manifestly arrested the attention of some of his English contemporaries.” Still, Boyd concedes that “no Irish writer is more Irish than Joyce,” given the “almost incredible faculty of detailed material observation” that informs his depiction of Dublin: “the matter is as local as the form is universal.” Ever sensitive to slights from the Irish, Joyce seems to have appreciated his belated inclusion in Ireland’s Literary Renaissance, making a gift of this new edition to his beloved younger brother, Stanislaus Joyce, and signing his name as he did for his family alone: “To Stannie / Jim / Paris / 6 September 1923.” A great association copy, and a decisive moment in Joyce’s critical reception.