8vo, pp. , 322; a fine copy in the publisher’s yellow cloth, top edge gilt, no dustjacket; bookplate of Lewis’s friend, the BBC broadcaster D. G. Bridson, with scattered marginal notes in pencil for his adaptation for radio, especially at the end; laid in loose are two cuttings of promotional articles by Bridson about the forthcoming broadcasts of The Human Age in 1955, an index of the book in Bridson’s hand, and a leaf of the broadcast typescript.
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The Childermass … Section 1.
First edition, no. 74 of 225 copies of the special edition, signed by Lewis, additionally inscribed, in c. 1951, ‘To Geoffrey Bridson (through whom I am enabled to finish this book) – deepest thanks and friendliest greetings / Wyndham Lewis’.
‘In 1921 Lewis had embarked on another ambitious project, a Rabelaisian fictional anatomy of postwar Britain.’ The first portion ‘finally and circuitously achieved publication at the end of the decade: The Childermass (1928), a work of theological science fiction set in an encampment of the dead on the banks of the River Styx’ (Trotter).
When D. G. Bridson first read The Childermass in 1932, he had concluded that ‘the setting of the drama is only to be seen convincingly in the imagination. It was that fact, when I reread The Childermass in 1950, that had assured me it would make magnificent radio’. The radio production of 1951 was the genesis of his friendship with Lewis, and their collaboration in turn enabled Lewis to finish the remaining two parts of what became The Human Age, which were funded by the BBC and written specifically with broadcast in mind.
The special edition and the ordinary edition (2500 copies, of which 1000 were eventually destroyed) were published simultaneously, on 21 June 1928. Lewis had in fact contracted with Chatto and Windus to finish the trilogy in 1928. They sued him for breach of contract in 1932, ending his association with the firm.
Pound & Grover A9b; Morrow & Lafourcade A10a.
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