London: MacGibbon and Kee , 1960. First Edition thus. Hardcover. First Impression of this new edition (the true first, published by Longmans in 1939, is exceedingly rare and virtually unobtainable), a literary "masterpiece" (Burgess), "a book in a thousand." (Graham Green) Crown 8vo (196 x 122mm): 316pp. Publisher's black cloth, spine lettered in gold; green typographic dust jacket printed in orange and priced 21s. Laid in is a spectacular book token designed by John Farleigh, infamous for his illustrations of Bernard Shaw's The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God. Square, tight, and clean throughout (probably unread). Fine in Fine dust jacket. Burgess 99. Fine / Fine. Item #BB2539
O'Nolan's first novel is a book about writing a book about writing a book. The student narrator is at work on a novel about an author named Trellis, who is also writing a novel, about his enemies, who, in revenge, are writing about him. "Like James Joyce's Stephen Daedalus [Joyce called O'Brien "a real writer, with the true comic spirit"], the student is fond of expounding his literary theories and puts them into practice in the manuscript he is composing. . . . The result is a farrago of literary styles, ranging from Trellis' purple prose to Middle Irish lays, the prose of the popular western and Victorianised tales of Finn McCool [Joyce's Finnegan]. Scattered amongst these are excerpts from various texts which the student is also pillaging for the purposes of literary creation. The rationale behind this curious structure is impeccably modern (if not exactly modernist)." (The 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) To which Graham Greene, comparing At Swim both to Tristram Shandy and Ulysses, added, It's "a book in a thousand." N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable mylar sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).