“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, late October, 1921, Paris

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.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This month I am talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

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.

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