“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, September 22, 1921, Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris

Which is worse? Financial problems or visiting family members?

That’s what is confronting ex-pat bookstore owner Sylvia Beach, 34, who is writing to her sister, Holly Beach Dennis, 37, in Italy to ask for money.

Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon

Sylvia and her partner, Adrienne Monnier, 29, who owns a French-language bookstore across the street, have just returned from a lovely holiday in Hyeres on the southeastern coast of France.

Now that they are back home Sylvia has to face her mother, here on her annual visit, joined by Mom’s brother and his son.

In addition, the bill for renovations Sylvia had to have done to move her shop, Shakespeare and Company, to this new—much improved—location has come due. A total of 2,120 francs, including printing the announcement of the relocation.

But the bill that worries Sylvia the most is the one from the printer, Darantiere, in Dijon. He needs 1,000 francs for the work he has done setting type for Ulysses, the controversial novel by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 39, which Sylvia has offered to publish. Darantiere has agreed to be paid in instalments, and Sylvia has solicited quite a few pre-orders from around the world. But not enough subscribers have sent checks yet to cover the growing expenses.

Letter from Darantiere

Reluctantly, Sylvia writes to Holly:

I’m asking you to lend me a thousand francs!!! My carpentry bill will be handed in any day now and mother who was going to lend me all the money for my moving expenses had to stop off in the midst, having had a great deal of expense getting [their sister] Cyprian equipped as a rising film star…My business is going well [but I] have to put every single centime aside to pay the printer.”

The plan is still to bring out Ulysses this fall, but Sylvia is dubious.

“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 fall 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.

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.

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

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, late August, 1921, 74 Gloucester Place, Marylebone, London; and Shakespeare & Co., 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris

Harriet Shaw Weaver, 44, publisher of the Egoist magazine, founder of the Egoist Press, and benefactor of many novelists and poets, has come to a decision.

She has heard rumors that one of the writers she supports [well, at least one] uses the money she sends to regularly get drunk. Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, living in Paris, has written to assure her that these are just rumors. Although he does mention that he probably drinks a bit too much.

Weaver has decided that Joyce’s bad habits are irrelevant in the face of his tremendous talent. Not only is she going to continue to support him, she is going to become his only publisher in the United Kingdom. For £15 she purchases the rights to his book of poetry published 14 years ago, Chamber Music, as well as, for £150, the copyrights to his early short story collection, Dubliners, and his play, Exiles.

James Joyce’s Chamber Music

Joyce has told her that American ex-patriate Sylvia Beach, 34, has offered to publish his novel-in-progress, Ulysses, through her Paris bookstore, Shakespeare & Co. Harriet is working with Sylvia to time the publication of the novel in England so that it doesn’t hurt sales of Beach’s publication in Paris.

Joyce assures both women that he’s optimistic the novel could still be ready this fall.

*****

In Paris, after Joyce collapses in a music hall from the strain of working 16 hours a day on his book, he decides to change his work habits.

Now he limits writing and revising Ulysses to five or six hours each day and spends more time on eight-mile walks around Paris.

His eye pain has become a bit more bearable, and he is working on 10 different episodes in the novel at the same time. Joyce has revised one section, “Aeolus,” to incorporate headlines which weren’t in any of the excerpts which appeared in the American magazine The Little Review. This changes the orientation of the second half of the book, which is being sent off to a printer in Dijon to be set into galleys.

The printer comes back to Joyce with all kinds of questions. Why so many compound words? Those are usually two words. Are you sure you want them as one word? Only one of the men who works there has any grasp of the English language at all.

And Joyce and Beach are running out of typists. They have all tried for a while and then given up in frustration over Joyce’s handwritten color-coded insertions to be incorporated into the text.

Recently they have enlisted an American drinking buddy of Joyce’s, fellow novelist and sometimes publisher Robert McAlmon, 26. He is doing his best with the four notebooks full of changes marked in red, yellow, blue, purple and green in Joyce’s scrawl.

Robert McAlmon

For the first few pages of the all-important “Penelope” section, McAlmon is meticulous about determining exactly where Joyce means each phrase to go. He has even re-typed a whole page to make sure everything is in the right place.

But after a bit, McAlmon muses, does it really matter when the character Molly Bloom thinks this, that or the other? What difference does it make if those thoughts go here, or there, or a few pages later, or maybe not at all. So he just puts them in wherever he is typing.

He wonders if Joyce will notice.

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

This fall 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.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, 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 available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, March 31, 1921, 8 rue Dupuytren, Left Bank, Paris

Sylvia Beach, just turned 34, American ex-pat owner of this bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., knows that she has to be the one to bring the bad news.

She has received a clipping of an editorial in last month’s New York Tribune stating that the court has ruled that excerpts from Ulysses, the work in progress by Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, her friend and customer, are officially, legally obscene.

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce

And the “melancholy Jesus,” as she calls him, has just walked into her store.

Joyce has been working on this novel for over six years now, and the late nights in a dimly lit room have severely affected his eyesight. He says he is now writing the last two sections and will be finished by May. Sylvia is dubious.

Recently he received a briefcase, sent from his previous home in Trieste, Italy, containing 12-year-old love letters between him and his partner and mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, just turned 37. This will help him to write the ending he has planned.

Despite the efforts of his benefactor in New York, lawyer and art collector John Quinn, 50, to get a major publisher to bring out a private edition, the only place excerpts of Ulysses have appeared is in The Little Review. And now the magazine’s publishers have been fined and prohibited from publishing any more.

After reading the clipping Joyce says,

My book will never come out now.”

What disturbs him even more is that, according to the editorial, the defense that Quinn had used in court was that his manuscript was incomprehensible to the average reader and disgusting. But not obscene. Because most people couldn’t understand it anyway, what was the point in suppressing it?

The judges didn’t agree. And they had recently punished a publisher in another obscenity case with a choice between a $1,000 fine or three months in prison. So the Little Review publishers take them seriously.

Sylvia felt for Joyce. His short story collection, Dubliners, had been rejected by 22 publishers before being brought out by Grant Richards Ltd. seven years ago in London.

What could she do to help? Does she know any publishers here? Her partner, Adrienne Monnier, 28, who owns a French language bookshop a few blocks away, has been bringing out Les Cahiers des Amis des Livres, a series of French writing and translations, for almost two years now. She works with a printer in Dijon and knows about typesetting and production.

Quinn had talked to Joyce about creating a private, high quality edition to sell for $10. Sylvia is thinking that she could have three different versions, of varying quality, and charge twice that much for a signed limited edition.

If she sets up a subscription scheme to get orders in advance, Sylvia figures she could pay the printer in instalments. And she could also hit up her mother and sisters for more family money to cover expenses.

Sylvia knows little about publishing, but she knows how to sell books. Not only is she fond of Joyce, she loves his work and has read enough of this novel to know that it will be one of the most important works published in English this decade.

Beach turns to Joyce and says,

Mr. Joyce, would you let Shakespeare & Co. have the honor of bringing out your Ulysses?”

“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 versions. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.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 also available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats.

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