Joseph O'Neill - Land Under England w/ Proof - Gollancz, 1935, First Edition.


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Code: 6397

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London, Gollancz, 1935. First Edition. First Impression. Hardback. Two [2] volumes, with publisher's letter. Cited by Karl Edward Wagner as one of the 13 greatests science fiction novels of all time. Wagner picked thirteen works in the supernatural horror, science fiction horror and non-supernatural horror categories. The present title being in the science fiction horror catagory alongside other liminaries such as The Day of the Triffids, Frankenstein and Vampires Overhead by Alan Hyder. The story looks at a race of people descending from the Romans living in a cave system below Cumberland under a totalitarian regime [Clute & Nicholls, p890; Pringle, 177]. Blieler has it as a Lost Race piece, containing supernatural [telepathic] abilities [p151]. A.E., who provides the introduction, writes of the satirical merit in the story, bringing the dystopia in to focus on Hitler; something to note for those intrigued by the oft-quoted, if oft-inprecise, prescient nature of science fiction. Also an interesting anecdote in the foreword from A.E. recounting a time his criticised James Joyce, to his face no less, noting that his poetry wasn't quite crazy enough! Day of Wrath, his subsequent novel, carries some wonderful reviews of the present title. The proof has a number of minor amendments, by hand, that have been updated in the final book. The letter is requesting that the book be checked for libel issues, though it's addressed only 'Dear Sir or Madam', it's clear that it was intended for the author or editor. Given that the amendments are primarily rephrasings rather than typographical corrections, we're led to think that the markup was provided by the editor rather than the author. A nice piece, outlining a step in the development of the novel. The letter is very good with foxing, the proof is very good also. The proof carries the jacket which with heavily worn to the edges, unevenly toned and brittle. The proof is in cream wraps, has a reading lean and has 'Advance Proof' written by hand on the upper cover. The book is foxed to the endpapers and has some general handling wear to the boards. The jacket is worn and chipped to the spine tips and corners, the spine is toned. A reasonable pair overall. The book was reprinted in the 1980s by Penguin and by Overlook, also in 1978 by NEL in their SF Master Series. [6397, Hyraxia Books].


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