London: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1924. First edition. 12 mo. (7 11/16 inches tall), original orange paper boards, orange cloth spine with printed paper label, uncut, original dust jacket. Corners sharp, paper spine label bright, mild staining to boards, jacket slightly worn along toned spine, small chip at base of front panel, inner panels trimmed (apparently by the publisher). A handsome copy. Item #861
"PASS WORLD: I AM THE DREAMER THAT REMAINS, / THE MAN, CLEAR-CUT AGAINST THE LAST HORIZON!" First edition of Roy Campbell's first book—inscribed by Campbell for a young British bookseller—in the original illustrated dust jacket. In 1918, Campbell left his native South Africa and came to England to study at Oxford. "He was already at work on the remarkable poem that was to make his reputation: The Flaming Terrapin, an apocalyptic vision of the hidden sources of life, published in 1924. The England to which Campbell came, with all the nostalgic love for the homeland that the Empire in general, and South Africa in particular, inspired in its children, was very different from the England whose soul had been recorded in the Book of Common Prayer, in Hymns Ancient and Modern, and in the boyish tales of Kipling" (Roger Scruton).
The Flaming Terrapin was published with John Austen's black-and-white frontispiece (also printed, in color, on the front of the dust jacket) and with the author's dedication to his wife and mother ("I dedicate this book to Mary & Natalie Campbell"). The book predates Roy and Mary Campbell's eventual conversion to Catholicism but coincides with their immersion in the social and literary controversies of "London Bohemia" (vividly described in Campbell's autobiographical Light on a Dark Horse). "Almost overnight, Roy Campbell, still only 22 years old, was rocketed into the ranks of the illustrissimi of English letters, his work being discussed in the same breath, and with the same reverence as that of T.S. Eliot. The comparison between Campbell and Eliot, who's hugely influential The Waste Land had been published 18 months prior to the appearance of The Flaming Terrapin, is singularly appropriate. Both poets, and both poems, were displaying an embryonic rebellion against the prevailing cynicism, born out of post-war angst, which afflicted the younger generation in the years following the carnage of World War I. Eventually both poets would reject the superficiality and shifting sands of modern cynicism for the sure foundation of traditional Christianity" (Joseph Pearce).
The always controversial Campbell made many enemies but even more admirers: "His rough diamond personality and irrepressible storytelling were greeted with amazement in the subdued literary world of postwar London. To Evelyn Waugh, he was a 'great beautiful simple sweet natured savage.' He was admired by T.S. Eliot, who published him, by the Sitwells, who idolized him, and by a whole range of writers and artists of a conservative or Catholic persuasion, from Father Martin D’Arcy and Wyndham Lewis to Charles Tomlinson and Augustus John" (Roger Scruton). This copy was inscribed by Campbell: "Bertram Rota / with best wishes / Roy Campbell." Bertram Rota was first established as a bookseller in London's Charing Cross Road in 1923, just as Campbell's own career was beginning. Roger Scruton, A Dark Horse, The American Spectator (October 2009). Pearce. Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Disbelief. Parsons. Roy Campbell: A Descriptive and Annotated Bibliography, A1.