“The Confessions of James Joyce,” by Mary Colum, 38, appears in Dublin’s Freeman’s Journal, the employer of Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom:
The author himself takes no pains at all to make it easy of comprehension…What actually has James Joyce achieved in this monumental work? He has achieved what comes pretty near to being a satire on all literature. He has written down a page of his country’s history. He has given the minds of a couple of men with a kind of actuality not hitherto found in literature. He has given us an impression of his own life and mind such as no other writer has given us before; not even Rousseau, whom he resembles.”
“Ulysses” by Edmund Wilson, 27, appears in The New Republic:
[Joyce] cannot be a realistic novelist…and write burlesques at the same time…[These 730 pages] are probably the most completely ‘written’ pages to be seen in any novel since Flaubert…[Joyce uses dialects] to record all the eddies and stagnancies of thought…[Despite its flaws it is] high genius…Ulysses has the effect at once of making everything else look brassy. Since I have read it, the texture of other novelists seems intolerably loose and careless; when I come suddenly unawares upon a page I have written myself I quake like a guilty thing surprised…If he repeats Flaubert’s vices—as not a few have done—he also repeats his triumphs—which almost nobody has done…If he has really laid down his pen never to take it up again [as is rumored] he must know that the hand which laid it down upon the great affirmative of Mrs. Bloom, though it never writes another word, is already the hand of a master.”
Advertising copywriter and would-be poet Hart Crane, 22, writes to a friend:
I feel like shouting EUREKA!
You will pardon my strength of opinion on the thing, but [Ulysses] appears to me easily the epic of the age. It is as great a thing as Goethe’s Faust to which it has a distinct resemblance in many ways. The sharp beauty and sensitivity of the thing! The matchless details!…
It is my opinion that some fanatic will kill Joyce sometime soon for the wonderful things said in Ulysses…”
In London, one of Joyce’s many benefactors, Harriet Shaw Weaver, 45, has decided that she will use her Egoist Press to publish Ulysses in the UK. Her lawyer warns her that producing a “private edition” will show the judges that she is restricting who can read it but won’t have any other legal advantage. Her printer, Pelican Press, looks over the first ten chapters and agrees to produce the book. But then someone there reads the rest of the novel and changes their decision.
Harriet Shaw Weaver
Harriet figures she can have it printed, bound and packaged in Paris, where no one cares if it’s “obscene,” and then shipped over to England. She intends to correct all the typographical errors that are strewn throughout the first, hasty, printing, and sell direct to the public instead of through bookstores, to reduce the chances of confiscation.
And she’ll give Joyce 90% of the profit after expenses.
“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.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
In the fall I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.