Standing on the platform at the Gare de Lyon, American ex-pat Sylvia Beach, 34, is waiting for the Paris-Dijon Express, due in at 7 am.
Gare de Lyon
The first copies of the novel Ulysses, by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 40 today, will arrive from Darantiere, the printer in Dijon. Sylvia’s little Left Bank bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, has taken on the responsibility of publishing the controversial book when no one else would.
When Beach told Joyce that Darantiere guaranteed to mail the parcel on 1st February, Joyce was not pleased. He insisted that the package be put on the train so the conductor can hand deliver the two copies to Sylvia personally.
As the train approaches, Beach is working out the next steps in her head. She will get a taxi to Joyce’s apartment at 9 rue de l’Universite to give him the 40th birthday present that he wants most, the first copy of Ulysses.
Then she will continue on to her shop, at 12 rue de l’Odeon, about 20 minutes away, to put the second copy on display in the window. Word has been circulating around the Left Bank that the book will soon be available, and those who subscribed in advance are eager to get their copies.
Tonight Joyce has planned a small party at one of his favorite restaurants, Ferraris, to celebrate his accomplishment, eight years in the making. He and his partner, and the mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, 37, have invited just a few friends. One of Joyce’s most loyal supporters and drinking buddies, American writer Robert McAlmon, 26, left town for the Riviera just yesterday. Didn’t even leave behind a birthday present.
Sylvia Beach and James Joyce
The next day, Joyce cables one of his main benefactors, Irish-American attorney, John Quinn, 51, at his Manhattan law office:
Ulysses published. Thanks.”
Quinn, meanwhile, cables to his friend, Irish playwright William Butler Yeats, 56:
Regret your father [painter JB Yeats, 82] passed away this morning, 7 o’clock…The end came in sleep without pain or struggle.”
The author and her Irishman, Tony Dixon
“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 email@example.com.
My talk about my fellow Pittsburgher, Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill tomorrow has been postponed due to the weather gods sending “extra ice on Thursday” in the middle of a snowstorm. The new date will be posted on this blog and you can register your interest in coming here.
At the end of February I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University, on Zoom, no matter what the weather is like.
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.