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REAVEY, George.

Quixotic Perquisitions.

Published: London: The Europa Press, 1939

Stock code: 112423

Price: £875

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First and limited edition, number 178 of 300 copies, of this collection of poems by George Reavey (1907-1976), the Russian-born Irish surrealist poet, publisher and translator, who was also Samuel Beckett’s first literary agent: his Europa Press published Beckett’s Echo’s Bones in 1935. Tipped to the front free endpaper is a 13-line typed poem signed by Reavey (dated 1947), dedicated to Mr & Mrs Leslie Daiken and entitled “Happy New Year, ViV2V3V4V5” (opening “There was a poet who smoked too much, and scattered his ash too far”). Leslie Daiken (1912-1964) was a poet and authority on children’s customs, toys, games, and nursery rhymes; he was also a student of Beckett’s at Trinity College, Dublin (his papers are held at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin). Loosely inserted is an autograph letter signed from Reavey to Daiken (dated “15/viii/47”, on Reavey’s personal letterhead) mentioning a recent trip to Paris and Switzerland and a meeting that Reavey had with Samuel Beckett: “Saw Sam there. Incidentally, Watt is hot just now – a good chance of publication but not yet 100% certain”. This is a fascinating fleeting glimpse into the publishing history of Beckett’s early masterpiece. Despite Reavey’s upbeat tone he was unsuccessful in finding a publisher for Watt, and it was not published until 1953 (by Maurice Girodias’s Olympia Press). “Beckett went to Dublin by way of London [in late March 1947] to check on the peregrinations of Watt. He was technically committed to have Richard Marsh act as his literary agent because Marsh had purchased the European Literary Bureau before the war from Reavey. But Beckett felt more comfortable working with someone he knew, and so he officially engaged Reavey as his agent” (Deirde Bair, Samuel Beckett: A Biography, 1993, p. 364).

Octavo. Original yellow cloth, red lettered spine. With the dust jacket. Half-tone frontispiece of Quixote and Sancho Panza by John Buckland-Wright. Jacket spine sunned, spine of binding slightly rolled. An excellent copy.

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