Irish ex-patriate James Joyce, 39, figures he has to write to his benefactor in London, Harriet Shaw Weaver, 44, founder of the Egoist Press, who has been supportive—financially and morally—of his current novel-in-progress, Ulysses.
Just last week Joyce had reported to her the distressing results of the trial back in New York that stopped publication of excerpts from his novel in The Little Review magazine by declaring that they were obscene. He was so upset, he took the time to transcribe by hand the full article from the New York Tribune clipping that he’d been given. He added that he knows 1921 is going to be unlucky because the digits add up to 13.
Now there is even worse news to report.
The English woman currently typing his manuscript showed up here at his hotel the other night. Her husband, an employee at the British embassy, found the manuscript and, when he read it, became furious. He ripped up the papers and threw them into the burning fire, including pages from the original as well as her already typed script.
James Joyce’s “Circe” manuscript
She came back the next day with what she could retrieve.
Joyce realizes that the damage is so great that the only complete copy of the “Circe” section he has been working on for so long is right now on board a steamship to New York City. Joyce has been selling the clean copies to one of his other benefactors, Irish-American attorney John Quinn, 50, to raise money to support himself and his family.
The copies Joyce has been giving to the typists are so sloppy that they are driving the women nuts. This is the ninth typist he has hired—just for the “Circe” chapter.
He knows he has to tell Weaver about this disaster, but Joyce also has some good news to pass on:
I arranged for a Paris publication to replace the American one—or rather I accepted a proposal made to me by Shakespeare & Co., a bookseller’s here…
“The proposal is to publish here in October an edition (complete) of the book…1,000 copies with 20 copies extra for libraries and press. A prospectus will be sent out next week…They offer me 66% of the net profit…The actual printing will begin as soon as the number of orders covers approximately the cost of printing…[Until the profits arrive] I need an advance.”
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available on Amazon in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
And so the trials and tribulations continue until Shakespeare & Co ride to the rescue. Meanwhile, I have a vision of eight previous typists each in a darkened room, taking liquids (liquor or otherwise) but otherwise refusing sustenance and visitors … On the subject of typing and typos, I’m sure you’ll have noticed, for the sake of future editions, the missing t in that, para 2 line 8 …
OMG! Thank you. That’s what happens when you do a last minute edit. I’ve fixed it.
And the typists were one after another, as they kept getting fed up. Joyce was not the best employer. All hail Sylvia Beach!