Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, is doing his best to get his Ulysses finished in time for a promised November publication. Actually, it was a promised October publication, but they missed that.
His publisher, American ex-pat bookstore owner, Sylvia Beach, 34, is dealing with angry subscribers who were expecting to have copies in hand by now. British army officer T. E. Lawrence, 33, is particularly mad as he has ordered two of the expensive deluxe copies.
T. E. Lawrence
But Sylvia figures that, as she hasn’t yet accepted any money from the subscribers, she isn’t cheating anyone.
Joyce is working hard, not only writing but also correcting proofs received back from the printer. He writes to a friend that the typesetters are
boggled by all the w’s and k’s in our tongue and can do only about 100 pages at a time…However, I am doing my best to push [Leopold] Bloom on to the stage of the world.”
Sylvia and the printer are also having a hard time finding the cover paper Joyce wants, the same blue as the Greek flag.
As he writes and revises, Joyce keeps expanding the text, by as much as 20%.
At the same time, he is also working with one of his French friends, writer Valery Larbaud, 40, on a French translation of the novel. In the backroom of another Left Bank bookshop, La Maison des Amis des Livres, owned by Sylvia’s partner, Adrienne Monnier, 29, Joyce is getting help with the translation from a young music student. Bilingual Jacques Benoist Mechin, 20, has also made some good suggestions, particularly about the ending. Joyce wanted to finish Molly Bloom’s soliloquy with “I will.” But he likes Mechin’s idea of ending with “Yes.”
Scofield Thayer, 31, editor of the American literary magazine, The Dial, has come here specifically to be psychoanalyzed by the legendary Professor Sigmund Freud, 65, for a fee of $100 per week.
Sigmund Freud’s house in Vienna
On the way from New York to Vienna, Thayer stopped off for a bit in Paris, meeting up with one of his magazine’s main contributors, American poet Ezra Pound, about to turn 36, who was kind enough to introduce him around to other ex-pats such as writer Gertrude Stein, 47. and her partner Alice B. Toklas, 44.
With him in Paris was yet another American poet, E. E. Cummings, just turned 27. Thayer has been helping to raise the daughter Cummings fathered two years ago with Thayer’s wife, Elaine Orr Thayer, 25. Scofield and Elaine have just recently finalized their divorce.
Elaine Thayer and her daughter
While Scofield is living in Vienna, which he plans will be for the next two years, he is still running TheDial. He supervises the contents, approves layouts, and tries to drum up some investment from wealthy Europeans he knows.
Thayer has decided to abandon his European expansion plans for his magazine. Another of his ex-pat poet contributors, Tom Eliot, 33, and he have been in talks with Lady Margaret Rothermere, 47, wife of the publisher of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, about funding a UK version of TheDial.
But it has become clear that Lady Rothermere is more interested in supporting a new magazine that Eliot has proposed—TheCriterion—rather than the expansion of an existing one from the States.
Withdrawing from the field, today Thayer writes to Eliot’s wife Vivien, 33, who is now handling all of Tom’s correspondence, that “the multiplication of magazines” in the market would not be a good thing:
The more artistic journals you publish the more money is wasted on printers, and paper dealers and the less is left for the artists themselves.”
American ex-patriate Sylvia Beach, 34, owner of this bookstore, had sent a subscription form to legendary Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, 65, in London. His former secretary had assured Sylvia that the irascible old man is quite generous. So Sylvia kindly asked him if he would like to subscribe in advance for one of the deluxe editions of the novel, Ulysses, by his countryman James Joyce, 39, which she is planning to publish this fall.
Joyce has never liked Shaw, referring to him as “a born preacher.” He warned Sylvia that the answer will be no. So they bet on it. A silk handkerchief for Beach if Shaw says yes; a box of Voltigeur cigars for Joyce if Shaw says no.
Sylvia Beach and James Joyce
Today she receives a letter saying that Ulysses, which Shaw has read excerpts of in the Egoist magazine, is “a revolting record of a disgusting phase of civilization…but a truthful one.” He assumes Beach herself must be
a young barbarian beglamored by the excitements and enthusiasms that art stirs up in passionate material, but to me…it is all hideously real.”
Shaw compares Joyce’s work to making “a cat cleanly by rubbing its nose in its own filth.”
He ends by saying,
I am an elderly Irish gentleman,..If you imagine that any Irishman, much less an elderly one, would pay 150Fr for a book, you little know my countrymen.”
Sylvia pays up to Joyce.
To raise more money for the publication of Ulysses, and the support of Joyce, Sylvia has written once again to one of his patrons, Irish-American New York attorney John Quinn, 51, pleading,
I give him everything I can spare but as you may imagine my shop has not been in existence long enough to support [Joyce’s] family of four people as well as myself…It is up to all of us who want the most important book of today to appear to come to the help of its author.”
This only angers Quinn, so he checks with another of Joyce’s benefactors, American poet Ezra Pound, about to turn 36, in London. Quinn says he’ll send the money if Pound thinks Joyce really needs it, but
I’ll be damned if I’ll do it because Miss Beach asks for it.”
Pound assures him that Joyce isn’t starving. Quinn doesn’t send the money.
We interrupt our usual chronicling of what was happening in the literary 1920s for this year’s ever-helpful “Such Friends” Holiday Gift Giving Guide.
So there are friends on your gift list who are, let’s just say, bookish. Maybe your book club? Or teenagers who just discovered a favorite author? Or someone you argue with over the relative merits of classic novels?
You have a good idea which books they like—but you really don’t know which ones they have or haven’t read.
They haven’t read this one!
Cover design by Lisa Thomson
By giving them either volume—1920 or 1921, both available on Amazon—of “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s you are giving them the gift of gossip about their favorite early 20th century novelists, short story writers, poets, and journalists.
What could be better, you ask?
How about—a signed copy of Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s?! It can be arranged. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are near any convenient city of Pittsburgh bus route, I will be happy to hand deliver your copy.
But wait. “Teenagers”?, you are asking. Teenagers don’t want to slog through some print doorstop all about the past. Ha! Then give them the e-book, also readily available from Amazon. And look at this beautiful interior design by Lisa Thomson from Volume II—1921. All the vignettes are laid out in easy-to digest pages. You can dip in and out or read all the way through.
Another gift for your bookish friends,Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
At the end of this month I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
In New York City, the New York Times Magazine features an interview with comedian Charlie Chaplin, 32, with the first byline by the Times’ first female full-time writer, Jane Grant, 29. She and her husband, Harold Ross, just turning 29, are living on her salary and saving his earnings as editor of Judge to bankroll a magazine they want to start.
At the New York World, Herbert Bayard Swope, 39, who took over as executive editor last year, is running front page articles 21 straight days in a row, exposing the Ku Klux Klan as a white supremacist organization. TheWorld’s investigation reveals that not only is the KKK terrorizing Blacks, Jews and immigrants, they are also harassing Catholics in the courts. The KKK is suing all the papers that are carrying TheWorld’s series.
Advertisement in the New York Tribune placed by the New York World
Down in Greenwich Village, the autumn issue of The Little Review, recently convicted of publishing obscene material, proclaims:
As protest against the suppression of The Little Review, containing various instalments of the Ulysses of James Joyce, the following artists and writers of international reputation are collaborating in the autumn number of Little Review.”
The list includes the magazine’s foreign editor, American ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, just turning 36, and writer and artist Jean Cocteau, 32. On the last page the magazine announces that, because Ulysses is to be published as a book in Paris,
We limp from the field.”
The Little Review, Autumn, 1921
The most recent issue of The Dial magazine contains an excerpt from Sea and Sardinia, by D. H. Lawrence, just turned 36. He complains to his agent that the magazine edited his piece of travel writing so that it is “very much cut up…Damn them for that.”
Sea and Sardinia by D. H. Lawrence
In Rome, Harold Loeb, just turning 30, and Alfred Kreymborg, 38, have produced the first issue of a new magazine, Broom, including work by two of their fellow Americans: A short story by Sherwood Anderson, just turning 45, and Sequidilla by ManRay, 31. To choose a title, the founders came up with a list of one-syllable words and randomly chose “broom.” Broom is dedicated to giving “the unknown, path-breaking artist” the opportunity to sweep away their predecessors. But Loeb feels that this first issue has too many predecessors and too few unknowns.
American ex-patriate poet, Tom Eliot, 33, and his wife, Vivien, also 33, are settling in for a three-week stay here in Cliftonville, a bit more than 60 miles northeast of London, during one of the hottest Octobers on record.
Advertisement for Albemarle Hotel
Tom has found a Victorian shed, the Nayland Rock Shelter, near the shore on Margate sands, that he can commute to each day by tram from Cliftonville. This will give him the seclusion he needs to work on the epic poem he has been trying to write since he moved to England more than seven years ago.
This beats the commute he has been doing every workday in noisy London from their Clarence Gate Gardens apartment in Marylebone to Moorgate station in east London and his job at Lloyds Bank. He enjoys the commute; but not the job.
Clarence Gate Gardens
His job, a two-month visit from his American family, and his insistence on trying to write this poem are taking their toll. Last month, Vivien arranged for Tom to be examined by one of the most celebrated nerve specialists in the country. The doctor strongly recommended that Eliot take two to three months off from everything. And everybody. Including Vivien. But she insisted on coming here with him.
The reputation of the doctor was the deciding factor. Lloyds agreed on the first of this month to grant Tom a three-month leave of absence, with full pay, to begin as soon as he trained his replacement, which he did last week.
Vivien is happy to be quit of London, describing their last night there with friends as
What a last impression of London…the monotony, the drivel of the whole stupid round.”
Now that they are in Margate, Tom is already eating better. And looking forward to digging in to commute to his beach shed each day to work on his as yet untitled poem. Vivien is planning to write to Scofield Thayer, 31, the editor of the American literary magazine TheDial, explaining that Tom will not be able to submit any more of his “London Letter” book reviews to the magazine until January at least.
But what will happen after their three-week stay here?
Tom is planning to take a holiday in Paris and bring along the “hoard of fragments” as he refers to the pencil scrawlings that are now the poem, to work on there with his fellow American friend and mentor, Ezra Pound, 35.
In addition, Viv has received advice from a friend of theirs who also suffers from depression, socialite and hostess, Lady Ottoline Morrell, 48. She has told them that the sickness leaves her “utterly dead & empty & it is like being in a cold fog—or a pond.” Ottoline has recommended a doctor in Switzerland who treated her brother.
Vivien wants Tom to go there after a few days in Paris.
Down in London, after much debate, Parliament has voted to return to the longer pub hours in force before The Great War, pleasing the pub owners but not the moral guardians of society.
And to emphasize the importance of Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, November 11, Field Marshall Douglas Haig, 60, has proposed declaring it Poppy Day. Citizens throughout the country will make their patriotism visible to all by wearing bright red poppies in their lapels.
The Cooperative Society of America has officially been put into receivership. To no one’s surprise.
And the least surprised is the editor of their newsletter, The Cooperative Commonwealth, newly married would-be novelist Ernest Hemingway, 23.
The founders and executives of the Society are accused of fraud for selling “beneficial interest certificates” to farmers, widows, and small businessmen for half down and half in instalments. But $11 million of the capital went into paper companies and the treasurer has taken off to Canada with about $3 million.
The judge has turned the evidence over to a grand jury.
Ernie is at home, reading the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the story. He knows that he has to write about it too, in the organization’s own newsletter.
And start packing to move to Paris with his new wife.
The friends from London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood are settling into this hotel on the French Riviera.
Hotel La Maison Blanche
As soon as painter Vanessa Bell, 42, arrives, she writes to their friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 38, back home, asking him to send them a dozen packages of oatmeal, 10 seven-pound tins of marmalade, four pounds of tea, and “some potted meat.”
Vanessa is here with her former lover, art critic Roger Fry, 54, who has received a letter from Vanessa’s sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 39, reporting on a recent evening at her country home in Sussex:
T. S. Eliot says that [James Joyce’s novel Ulysses] is the greatest work of the age—Lytton [Strachey] says he doesn’t mean to read it. Clive [Bell, Vanessa’s husband] says—well, Clive says that [his mistress] Mary Hutchinson has a dressmaker who would make me look like other people.”
Also here for the winter is Vanessa’s partner, painter Duncan Grant, 36, who has arrived via Paris.
Visitors or not, Vanessa intends to spend her time here working on still lifes and interiors, in preparation for her first solo show next spring.