JOYCE, James (1882-1941). Chamber Music. London: Elkin Mathews, .
8o. Title within woodcut border. (Some light foxing and soiling.) Original green cloth, gilt-lettered on front cover and spine (somewhat soiled and rubbed). Provenance: Vincent Cosgrave (presentation inscription); Anonymous owner (sold Sotheby's London, 19 July 1994, lot 180, calling this the third variant).
FIRST EDITION, THE UNCOMMON FIRST VARIANT, slightly taller than the second and third, with thick laid endpapers and with the poems in signature C well-centered on the page.
A MAGNIFICENT ASSOCIATION COPY OF JOYCE'S FIRST REGULARLY PUBLISHED BOOK, INSCRIBED IN THE MONTH OF PUBLICATION TO HIS BEST FRIEND AT THE TIME, LATER HIS 'JUDAS', VINCENT COSGRAVE on the front free endpaper: "To Vincent Cosgrave James Joyce Trieste, 10 May 1907." Cosgrave went from being Joyce's best friend from his early years in Dublin to his betrayer and enemy, after claiming that he had had an affair with Joyce's wife Nora. Cosgrave was the model for Lynch in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses (where he plays Judas) and part-model for the character of Robert Hand in Exiles.
Joyce and Cosgrave met in 1907 when the latter was a medical student at University College. In 1909, when Joyce returned to Ireland from Trieste, Cosgrave boasted that he'd been sexually involved with Nora Barnacle during the summer of 1904, just a few months before Joyce and she eloped. When Joyce learned of this, Nora was still in Trieste and was helpless to defend herself against an irate Joyce who wrote to her: "My eyes are full of tears, tears of sorrow and mortification... the only being I believed in was not loyal to me... Is Georgie my son? I remember there was very little blood that night. Were you fucked by anyone before you came to me?" (Joyce, Selected Letters, pp.158-9). Joyce did not reveal the name of his accused and Nora at first did not respond. He was consoled by his closest University friend, J.F. Byrne, who concluded that "Cosgrave's brag was a 'blasted lie.' It was probably the second stage in a joint plot of Cosgrave and [fellow friend] Gogarty to wreck Joyce's life... Gogarty having failed in his attempt at cajolery, the pair had decided to try slander. Byrne's explanation could not have been more fortunate: as long as there was treachery somewhere, and especially if Gogarty was somehow involved in it, Joyce could be persuaded of Nora's innocence..." (Richard Ellman, James Joyce, p.290).
Eventually Nora responded, providing him with an obscene letter--"relief released in Joyce a torrent of erotic fantasy... he dreamed of her in all kinds of poses, 'grotesque, shameful, virginal, languorous.' She was to have no secrets from him--no privacy of the body any more than of the soul--he was to be her master" (Brenda Maddox, Nora: A Biography of Nora Joyce). It is unclear what the exact nature of the relationship between Cosgrave and Nora was. If they were ever involved, it was most certainly before Nora and Joyce began their relationship. Maddox supposes that Joyce was in "a high state of paranoia" at the time he was away from Nora.
The episode did provide Joyce with tremendous creative energy. Maddox even goes so far as to write that "the one clear fact in the whole shadowy episode is that Joyce could not have written Ulysses without the surge of fear and relief that he derived from it... He saw treachery everywhere and perhaps had since childhood... scholars have detected the theme of betrayal in the opening pages of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man... where Stephen Dedalus sees himself as a 'baby tuckoo'--in other words, a baby cuckoo or baby cuckold, a nice little boy born to be betrayed."
This copy of Chamber Music is one of the earliest copies Joyce inscribed and sent to any of his friends from Trieste (the British Museum copy was received on 8 May, just two days before the inscription here). Although Cosgrave once told Joyce, "I don't care a damn what you say of me so long as it is literature" (Maddox, p.93), he may not have appreciated Stephen Dedalus's prediction that Lynch would commit suicide in Judas-like fashion. The actual circumstances of Cosgrave's death are unclear. His body was found on the bank of the Thames in September 1926. He may have jumped, may have gotten drunk and fallen in, or he may have been pushed. The coroner delivered an open verdict on his death certificate, which identified Cosgrave's occupation as "former medical student." However he died, it was, in the words of Joyce's biographer, "a presumed fulfillment of Stephen Dedalus's prophecy in the Circe episode, 'Exit Judas. Et laqueo se suspendit'" (Ellman, James Joyce). Slocum & Cahoon A3. AN ASSOCIATION OF GREAT LITERARY IMPORTANCE.