“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, end of December, 1922, New York City, New York; London; and Paris

Rumors are flying around New York City that a group of con men are planning to print cheap, bootleg copies of the scandalous new novel Ulysses by Irish writer James Joyce, 40.

These literary pirates plan to take advantage of the fact that 400 copies of the banned book were destroyed when they arrived in this country from the publisher in Paris, American bookstore owner Sylvia Beach, 35. Booksellers here would love to get their hands on some copies, which are going for as much as $100 each on the black market. Some are even being smuggled over the border by an American book lover who commutes to work in Canada.

Ulysses by James Joyce, first edition

One of Beach’s American friends has written to her, lamenting,

It is too absurd that Ulysses cannot circulate over here. I feel a bitter resentment over my inability to read it.”

In his law offices, attorney John Quinn, 52, who has helped to fund the publication and promotion of Ulysses, knows that getting an injunction against these literary thieves would be too expensive. They’d pass the printing plates on to more thieves in a different state and he’d spend all his time getting injunctions, state after state.

Quinn does have a creative solution, however. If he were to alert his nemesis, John Sumner, 46, the head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice [NYSSV], that copies of the book that Sumner himself—and the court—have deemed obscene are indeed circulating, Sumner would put the time and effort into tracking down the gangs and stopping publication before the counterfeit copies hit the streets.

John Sumner

How ironic. Sumner was the guy Quinn fought in court to keep Ulysses legal.

The U. S. Customs authorities are trying to confiscate every copy of the novel that enters the country and then store them in the General Post Office Building. The local officials appeal to the Post Office Department in Washington, D. C., for instructions about what to do with the 400 copies of this 700-page book they are storing. The Feds respond that the book is obscene and all copies should be burned.

So they are.

New York General Post Office

*****

Some copies of Ulysses do make it safely into the States, shipped from London where they had been taken apart and wrapped in newspapers. These are from the second edition, published this fall in Paris by the Egoist Press, owned by Joyce’s patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, 46.

Ulysses by James Joyce, second edition

When Harriet learned that at least 400 copies had been burned in New York, she simply ordered up 400 more.

Back in March, when the first major review of Ulysses appeared in The Observer—which considered the novel a work of genius, but concluded,

Yes. This is undoubtedly an obscene book.”

—a concerned citizen passed the clipping on to the Home Office, which contacted the undersecretary of state requesting the names and location of any bookstores selling Ulysses. Weaver also thinks they have sent a detective to follow her as she personally makes deliveries to each shop which has ordered copies to be sold under the counter only to special customers.

The Home Office also became aware of much more negative reviews of Ulysses, which led the undersecretary to call it unreadable, unquotable, and unreviewable.” He issued instructions that copies entering the country should be seized, but his order is only provisional, and he doesn’t have a copy himself to read. So the Home Office requests an official opinion from the Crown Protection Service (CPS),

In the meantime, a British customs officer, doing his duty, takes a package from a passenger who landed at Croydon Airport in London, and, recognizing it as the banned Ulysses, flips to page 704 to see why. He confiscates the book on orders from His Majesty’s Customs and Excise Office, but the passenger complains that it is a work of art, praised by many reviewers, and on sale in bookshops in London as well as Paris.

Croydon Airport

Customs and Excise keeps the book but sends it on to the Home Office for a ruling.

This copy of Ulysses makes its way through the bureaucracy and finally lands on the desk of Sir Archibald Bodkin, 60, Director of Public Prosecutions at the CPS and scourge of the suffragettes whom his officers had routinely arrested and abused.

Sir Archibald Bodkin

Bodkin only had to read the final chapter to issue his decision. Which he did two days before the end of 1922: 

I have not had the time nor, I may add, the inclination to read through this book. I have, however, read pages 690 to 732. I am entirely unable to appreciate how those pages are relevant to the rest of the book, or, indeed, what the book itself is about. I can discover no story, there is no introduction which might give a key to its purpose, and the pages above mentioned, written as they are as if composed by a more or less illiterate vulgar woman, form an entirely detached part of this production. In my opinion, there is…a great deal more than mere vulgarity or coarseness, there is a great deal of unmitigated filth and obscenity…It is filthy and filthy books are not allowed to be imported into this country.”

End of. 

*****

In Paris, at the bookstore where it all began, Sylvia Beach is selling increasing numbers of Ulysses every day. Customers who come in asking for it leave with copies of all Joyce’s books.

By the end of the year, James Joyce is her best seller, beating out William Blake, Herman Melville, and, one of Sylvia’s favorites, Walt Whitman.

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk 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, October 13, 1922, New York Times, New York City, New York

Publisher Thomas Seltzer, Inc., takes an ad in the New York Times to announce that three of its latest books are indeed legal.

New York Times advertisement

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, September 12, 1922, Manhattan Municipal Term Court, New York City, New York; and near Taos, New Mexico

City Magistrate George W. Simpson, 51, is issuing his decision in the case brought against publisher Thomas A. Seltzer, 47, by John Sumner, 45, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV), for publishing three “obscene” books, including the novel Women in Love by English writer D. H. Lawrence, just turned 37 yesterday.

Women in Love, U. S. edition

Based on his own reading, as well as expert testimony from critics such as Gilbert Seldes, 29, managing editor of The Dial magazine—who testified that the novel “would not interest a child and be no more exciting to an adult than a railroad timetable”—Simpson dismisses all charges and orders that the confiscated books be returned to the publisher.

Echoing a decision issued just 10 days earlier in the case Halsey v. NYSSV, Simpson states that

Mere extracts separated from their context do not constitute criteria by which books might be judged obscene,”

and that the books in question have value as literature.

Seltzer’s attorney announces that they will bring suit against Sumner and the NYSSV. And Seltzer knows that sales will soar.

Advertisement that Thomas Seltzer, Inc., plans to place in the New York Times

****

The author in question, D. H. Lawrence, arrived with his wife, Frieda, 43, at their new home in Taos, New Mexico, just yesterday. What a birthday present.

After more than a year of correspondence between the two, Lawrence finally met his hostess, Mabel Dodge, 43, when he and Frieda stepped off the train yesterday in Lamy, New Mexico, 90 miles south.

Dodge, swathed in turquoise and dripping silver jewelry, was accompanied by her partner, a rather silent Native American Tony Luhan, 43, who drove them here to Taos in Mabel’s Cadillac.

Mabel Dodge and Tony Luhan

Dodge has fixed up a roomy house for the Lawrences, just 200 yards away from the one she shares with Luhan, about a mile from the town’s central plaza.

Lawrence is impressed with their new surroundings. But early this morning, he has gone to Mabel’s house to begin working with her on the novel she wants him to write. She invites him to come up to her roof terrace where she is sunbathing. Passing through her bedroom, Lawrence sees her unmade bed and instinctively makes a disgusted face, which Mabel sees. She is disappointed that the author she has put so much faith in is so small-minded.

Gates to Mabel Dodge’s house

Lawrence tells Mabel that his wife doesn’t want them working together at Mabel’s house; there is plenty of room for them at the Lawrences’. So Dodge and Lawrence gather round the table there.

Frieda makes a point of stomping around the house while loudly sweeping and singing.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 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 kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Later in the year 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 7, 1922, 5 West 50th Street, New York City, New York

Late on this hot Friday afternoon, Thomas Seltzer, 47, is working at his desk in the office of his publishing company, Thomas Seltzer, Inc.

Signature of Thomas Seltzer

Suddenly, there is noise outside the door and in walks John Sumner, 45, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV). Accompanying him is an officer of the West Side Police Court with a search warrant. They seize almost 800 copies—and also books from other publishers stored in Seltzer’s own locked desk—of three books:  the novella Casanova’s Homecoming by the Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler, 60; A Young Girl’s Diary, by an anonymous author, with a foreword by noted psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, 66: and Women in Love, a novel by one of Seltzer’s star authors, Englishman D. H. Lawrence, 36. Lawrence’s most recent best seller, Aaron’s Rod, is there in plain sight, but Sumner ignores it.

Women in Love, U. S. edition

Unfortunately, there are lots of copies of Women in Love in the office because Lawrence’s novel has not done as well as Seltzer expected.

Sumner informs the publisher that he is being charged under the New York State Penal Code for “the publication and sale of obscene literature.” Sumner says he will have a police patrol car come by and haul away the books. Seltzer decides he will rent a truck to take them to the police station instead, so the books themselves will not appear to be criminals under arrest.

West Side Police Court

Sumner is Executive Secretary of the NYSSV, which is empowered by the city to search and seize any materials the Society deems obscene. But Sumner is just a private citizen, so he issues Seltzer a receipt for the books in the name of the New York District Attorney.

The NYSSV confiscates copies of the Young Girl’s Diary from Brentano’s bookstore and also arrests a clerk at a local circulating library for lending out that book to “diverse persons.”

Seltzer knows that he will need to consult his attorney before he takes any action, but his instinct is to fight these charges and to fight them quite publicly. This is going to be a big financial blow to his three-year-old publishing company, but his wife Adele, 46, a partner in his business, will support his decision. She is an even bigger fan of Lawrence than Seltzer is.

“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 kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Later in the year 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 the University of Pittsburgh and 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, October 21, 1920, Jefferson Market Police Court, Greenwich Village, New York and rue de l’Assomption, 16 arrondissement, Paris, France

John Quinn, 50, attorney, art collector, and supporter of the arts and artists, doesn’t want to have to be here.

But The Little Review magazine needs him. Again.

Here in court for the preliminary hearing into their obscenity trial, Quinn has asked The Little Review’s founder and publisher, Margaret Anderson, 33, and her editor, Jane Heap, 37, to sit away from him.

Jefferson Market Courthouse by the Sixth Avenue Elevated

It’s bad enough that he has to be here, pro bono, when he should be in Washington DC preparing for the corporate case he is set to argue before the US Supreme Court. For a big fee.

Quinn only rushed over here because, after he stopped in his midtown law office following an important corporate meeting in the Bronx, the junior lawyer he had assigned to The Little Review case had called to say it would be best if Quinn were present in court. The magistrate, Judge Joseph E. Corrigan, 44, was not a fan of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice [NYSSV] which brought the complaint. But he is an old friend of Quinn’s from their involvement in Irish-American groups in the city.

So Quinn took the Sixth Avenue El down here to sit, in his three-piece suit with his gold watch chain spread across his vest, amidst the

immigrants, Negroes, Italians, and Lesbians,”

as he later describes them, waiting for Corrigan to finish privately reading the passage in question, the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses, by the genius—as far as Quinn is concerned—Irish novelist James Joyce, 38, published in the July-August issue of The Little Review.

Previous issues of the magazine with other Ulysses excerpts had been confiscated by the US Post Office. But this is the first time a warrant has been served for the arrest of Anderson, Heap and even bookstore owners who sold the magazine. Quinn managed to at least get charges against the book sellers dismissed and delay the preliminary hearing until now.

As Quinn understands it, some uptight conservative businessman had found a copy of this issue of Little Review with his teenage daughter’s magazines—and read it. He was appalled by Gerty MacDowell flashing her knickers, and wrote a nasty letter to the New York City District Attorney asking how this smut could be kept out of the hands of unsuspecting readers—the magazine had been mailed unsolicited to his daughter!

The DA knew that there is a way—the NYSSV, directed by John Sumner, 44, whose mission is to rid New York of filth.

John Sumner

Quinn had taken Sumner to lunch last week, hoping to get all the charges dismissed. He gave the NYSSV director a copy of a glowing review of Joyce’s work from the Dial magazine, and admitted that some of that language should not have been in a magazine. Quinn assured Sumner that he would stop Joyce from publishing his work-in-progress in the Little Review. Quinn has been urging Joyce to agree to private publication of a high-quality book version of Ulysses, and he’s close to getting a publisher, Ben Huebsch, 44, to agree.

Sumner doesn’t believe Quinn can get Joyce to withdraw the rights from the magazine. And he wants the smut eliminated.

Sumner’s deposition only has to say that the material is

obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, indecent and disgusting.”

The law says that to quote passages would just repeat the offense.

But Corrigan is not willing to take Sumner’s word for it. So he has halted today’s proceedings to retire to his chambers and read the relevant 16 pages of the issue himself.

When he comes back into court, he shoots a bit of a smile towards his friend, Quinn. He says that one passage

where the man went off in his pants [is definitely] smutty, filthy.”

Then Corrigan orders Anderson and Heap held for trial, postponed until February. Quinn asks that they be released to his custody—a technicality, as he intends to spend no more time with them than professionally required. His junior lawyer pays their $25 bail—each—and they are all free to go.

The Little Review is thrilled—Anderson defiantly tells the judge that this trial

would be the making of The Little Review.”

Quinn doesn’t give a damn about the magazine or the women. He wishes they would go back to the stockyards of Chicago where they started. He feels work like Joyce’s should be kept out of publications sent through the mail, where any teenager can see them. Quinn believes that literature belongs in books.

Now Quinn is looking forward to a week’s hiking trip in the Catskills. He’s bought new light woollen socks and rubber-soled shoes for the occasion.

*****

At 5 rue l’Assomption, 16th arrondissement of Paris, James Joyce sits at the desk in his family’s cramped three-room apartment trying to finish the “Circe” section of his novel.

He’s been working on Ulysses for six years, and on this part for six months. Joyce described his current state to a friend as

working like a galley-slave, an ass, a brute.”

Joyce is aware that the sections he has sent to The Little Review, via their foreign editor, American poet living in London, Ezra Pound, about to turn 35, have been published. And confiscated. And in some cases burned.

He hasn’t heard much more about it. The magazine’s attorney, Quinn, says that Joyce would be better off pulling out of the publication and publishing an expensive privately printed book version. The legal controversy could even increase book sales! But Joyce doesn’t want to lose his Little Review audience.

And he has to finish writing the book first. Joyce just wants to keep working.

5 rue l’Assomption

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Paris and New York after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at the University of Pittsburgh.

My “Such Friends” presentations, The Founding of the Abbey Theatre and Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table are available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.

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 Kindle versions. I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University early next year.

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