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JOYCE, James.

Chamber Music.

London: Elkin Mathews, 1907 Stock Code: 143086
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A bright first-issue copy of Joyce's scarce first book

First edition, first issue, of Joyce's first book, a particularly nice copy unrestored in the original cloth.

The publishing history of Chamber Music is well documented but has some lacunae. The book was published on 10 May 1907 in an edition of 500 copies, but Mathews did not bind all copies at once. There have been various guesses as to how many he first bound. It was probably somewhere between the 205 copies which he accounted for in July 1908 and 300, the threshold after which Joyce was due a royalty. In Trieste, Joyce set about selling or giving away copies himself; he distributed 64 copies between 7 September 1909 and February 1913. This burst of activity prompted Mathews to bind up some of the remaining sheets in or about 1911.

This first issue is the largest of the three (162 x 110 mm), in a slightly lighter shade of green cloth, and has thick laid endpapers with horizontal chain lines and the poems in signature C well centred on the page. The second and third issues are each trimmed slightly smaller, and the poems in signature C are consequently poorly centred (that is, the upper and lower margins are unequal). The second variant has thick wove endpapers, the third has thin wove transparent endpapers.

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Small octavo. Original light green cloth, spine and front cover lettered in gilt.


Illustrated title page.


Light rubbing at extremities and foxing to endpapers, a couple of very minor marks to spine, yet notwithstanding an excellent, bright copy.


Slocum & Cahoon A3 (first variant).


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