London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1958 (second edition)/ 1948.
Octavo, 303 pages.
Papered boards (lettered in gilt on the spine) a little bumped at the extremities; small light stain to the foot of the gutter of both endpapers; edges lightly marked; trifling signs of handling; a very good copy with the very good price-clipped Sidney Nolan-designed dustwrapper a little rubbed, creased and lightly marked at the rear (with some tidemarks visible only on the underside), and 15 page-reference numbers in pencil or red ink on the otherwise-blank rear flap (but read on).
Provenance: James McAuley (1917-1976), the Australian poet and academic, with a fine signed gift inscription on the front flyleaf ('James McAuley from Patrick White 1959'). We presume the annotations on the dustwrapper (and the three associated marginal emphases in pencil within) are in his hand. McAuley was a teacher 'before being mobilized in the Militia on 7 January 1943. He transferred to the Australian Imperial Force that month. Following a stint in army education, Sergeant McAuley was commissioned in January 1944 ... On idle afternoons in the Victoria Barracks in 1944, McAuley and Harold Stewart concocted the "Ern Malley" hoax. Intending to castigate "the decay of meaning and craftsmanship" in much contemporary verse, they targeted the Adelaide journal "Angry Penguins", edited by Max Harris. Using a comically eclectic array of sources, together with a fictitious biography for the hapless Ern, the hoaxers sent "his" "The Darkening Ecliptic" to Harris, who eagerly published it. This successful and serious prank has been loosely blamed for setting back literary modernism and encouraging philistinism in Australia. Exaggerated claims were advanced for the Malley poems, but, once the hoax was exposed in a Sydney newspaper, McAuley had little to say of them' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography').