“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, February 21, 1922, 70 bis, rue Notre Dame des Champs, Paris

Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 51, has been ill recently and this has cut into his time, not only as a successful corporate lawyer, but also as a patron of artists and writers, including Irish novelist James Joyce, 40, living in Paris.

Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses has just been published in Paris by an American ex-pat bookstore owner, with financial help from Quinn. He and Shakespeare and Company owner Sylvia Beach, 34, have been tussling with each other in letters. She’s always asking for money to support Joyce, and Quinn wonders if the writer really needs that much support. Quinn is sure Beach is getting her share of the profits. Although she has told him that Joyce’s royalty is going to be an outstanding 66%.

Sylvia Beach

Recently Beach wrote to Quinn to smooth things over: 

I know that no matter how testy you like to seem, you are the kindest man alive.”

Today, another one of Joyce’s American supporters, ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, 36, also living in Paris, is writing one of his usual lengthy and colorful letters, to bring Quinn up to date on the writers he is supporting:

Cher ami:

“I am sorry you have been ill; has anyone suggested that you work too much. Most men stop when buried, but I see you pushing up the lid of the cercueil, or having a telephone fixed inside the damn thing ante mortem, so that you can dictate to the office…

Ezra Pound

Joyce told me yesterday that his english patron [publisher Harriet Shaw Weaver] had come across with another $1000, so that his income, “unearned” (or damn well earned) is now about £450 per year. So that’s that. I dont think Miss Bitch (as the name is pronounced by Parisians) was writing [at Joyce’s] instigation…

“She has been very sporting over Ulysses, but she is bone ignorant and lacking in tact. (I mean, in my own case, that she insults me every other time I go into the shop, in perfect, oh, I am convinced, in perfect unconsciousness of the fact. She has nothing to gain by insulting me)…

“That I think is a fair definition of tactlessness:  to insult when you dont mean to….

“I am worried about [poet T. S.] Eliot; and if you start chucking money about, I shd. certainly make out a case for him, now, before anyone else…

“Eliot came back from his Lausanne specialist looking O.K.; and with a damn good poem (19 pages) in his suit case…

“[New York publisher Horace] Liveright made a good impression here; offered to bring out Ulysses in the U. S. and hand over 1000 bones to J. J[oyce]. Why the hell J. J. didn’t nail it AT once I don’t know. The terms were o. k. 1000 dollars for first edition, etc…However, Joyce is off my hands; free, white, 21 years or more, of age etc…

“Eliot ought to be private secretary to some rich imbecile…failing that you might send over someone to elope, kidnap, or otherwise eliminate Mrs. E[liot]…

“Hell, mon cher, will you retire sensibly now? Or will you insist [on] being useful to other people until it is too late?…

“So far it has been a winter without colds in the head. Hope to get some Italian sun in April. Have bought lire with that intent, as their value on the exchange seems to be drifting up.

“yours ever

“Ezra Pound”

Pound’s unique spelling and punctuation have been left intact.

“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 as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Thanks to all who came out in record-breaking rainfall to see my presentation about Gertrude Stein at Riverstone Books. This summer I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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.

9 thoughts on ““Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, February 21, 1922, 70 bis, rue Notre Dame des Champs, Paris

  1. Such fun! This is eavesdropping across the past century. This is a lovely blog altogether, but I especially enjoy the Joyceana. I have a scratched cornea as I write this and am wearing an official Joyce Eye patch, so please pardon any typos. ~Don

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