by CLARE HUTTON
This article is devoted to objects that tell the story of women who supported James Joyce and the publication of his landmark novel, Ulysses (1922). They were previously on display in our exhibit, Women and the Making of Ulysses, curated by Dr Clare Hutton, author of Serial Encounters: Ulysses and the Little Review (Oxford University Press, 2019).
#1: Copy number 17 of the first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, signed by the author, 1922
James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in Paris by Sylvia Beach on February 2, 1922, the occasion of Joyce’s 40th birthday, would have been a very different book had she not been so generous in her support. He had first considered writing a work called Ulysses in 1906, but struggled to make significant progress during the years of upheaval brought about by World War I, health problems, and financial difficulties. When the serialization of Ulysses in New York ground to a halt owing to legal proceedings against The Little Review during the autumn of 1920, Joyce told Beach that his “work will never come out now.” He had met her at a party a few days after his arrival in Paris in July that year. Joyce had quickly become a regular visitor to Shakespeare and Company, Beach’s English language lending library and bookshop, which functioned as a kind of salon and meeting place for writers and artists, conveniently positioned opposite “La Maison des Amis des Livres,” the bookshop owned by Beach’s lover, Adrienne Monnier.
Beach was determined to make Ulysses a success, partly because of the difficulties Joyce had faced in the attempt to produce the work elsewhere. The prospectus, offered to potential purchasers of the first edition, points out that Ulysses was “suppressed four times during serial publication.” It promises subscribers the text “complete as written,” a tiny and telling phrase which shows that Beach would not allow Joyce to be censored. In this she differed from others who championed Ulysses, including American poet Ezra Pound, who had quietly omitted words like “pissed,” “bugger,” “venereal,” and “cunt” from the typescripts of Ulysses he was handling for The Little Review.
Maurice Darantiere, the master printer whom Beach commissioned to print Ulysses was instructed “to supply Joyce with all the proofs he wanted” and quickly found that Joyce was “insatiable.” As the text began to find its way into proof, Joyce began revising and expanding, and Beach found herself having to put “every single centime aside” in order to meet Darantiere’s significant printing bills.
Beach allowed Joyce to play a significant role in designing the look and feel of this iconic first edition. He chose the typeface, Elzevir, and specified the color of the paper cover: the turquoise blue of the Greek flag is intended as a subtle reminder of the book’s Homeric substructure. Beach also arranged for the sale of the first edition, which appeared in three different states. All copies were numbered: the first 100 were signed by Joyce and printed on Dutch handmade paper; 101 to 250, in a slightly larger format, were printed on a heavy handmade laid paper from Arches in France; copies 251 to 1,000, were also printed on a handmade paper, lighter and slightly thinner than Arches.
Copies of the first edition are regarded as a must have for collectors of modern literature. Signed copies are especially prized. Number 17 was formerly owned by Sylvia Beach and Maurice Saillet (1914–1990) who had been employed by Monnier. This copy is in a pristine state and was subsequently acquired by Carlton Lake (1915–2006), a curator at the Ransom Center from 1968 to 2003.
# 2: The “American Number” of The Little Review, June 1918
Acting as “Foreign Editor” for The Little Review, an avant-garde American periodical dedicated to the publication of Modernist literature and ideas, Ezra Pound encouraged Joyce to submit Ulysses for serial publication in the summer of 1917. Spurred by the promise of regular payment and the encouragement that his work would be published and appreciated, Joyce began to complete chapter typescripts in sequence and sent them to Pound in London for his approval and onward submission to The Little Review in New York.
The editors of The Little Review, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, had been enthusiastic about Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and were delighted to have his “new novel,” which they welcomed as a “prose masterpiece” that was “even better than the Portrait.” Thus, the serialization of Ulysses in The Little Review began, in a process which was formative for the writing and reception of the novel.
Readers may think of Ulysses in relation to Dublin in 1904 or Paris in 1922, but the cultural geography of the work’s original composition and transmission to print is rather more dispersed. The finished Ulysses consists of 18 chapters. The last four were completed in Paris, but all the others were prepared for serialization while Joyce was living in Zurich and then Trieste. The first readers of Ulysses were largely Americans who encountered Ulysses in the 23 issues of The Little Review, appearing between March 1918 and December 1920.
The issue of June 1918 was billed as an “American Number,” and introduces Leopold Bloom to the world for the very first time. Heap’s relations with Anderson, her lover, were intermittently hostile and she edited this issue, as an editorial notes, “with no compromise to Margaret Anderson and Ezra Pound.” Regular subscribers had complained about the way in which The Little Review was publishing a “foreign all-star cast.” Heap’s issue is an attempt at redress, and includes work by Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell, and Djuna Barnes. To see Leopold Bloom appear in this context is to see things differently: readers of The Little Review are a world away from 7 Eccles Street, Dlugacz’s butcher, Molly Bloom being served breakfast in bed, Milly’s letter, and the infamous scene in which Bloom reads “an old number of Titbits” while seated on the toilet.
Ezra Pound objected to Joyce’s “detailed treatment of the dropping feces.” Working on the typescript before sending it on to New York, he insistently deleted the cues which make it obvious that Bloom has gone into the garden in order to empty his bowels in the outdoor toilet. Joyce responded to Pound’s cuts with predictable indignation. He wrongly assumed that it was the New York printer who had “mutilated” his work.
Until January 1920 Anderson and Heap had no direct contact with Joyce. All the arrangements for the Ulysses serialization were handled by Pound. Anderson and Heap, in respect to their attitude to Joyce’s notorious candor, were clearly more liberal and laissez-faire than Pound.
Joyce never visited the U.S. and had little sense that his work was being published by radical lesbian feminists who were committed to free speech, and causes such as anarchism, female suffrage, and non-participation in World War I. He did not fully appreciate the significance of the time, trouble, and risks Anderson and Heap were taking in order to publish Ulysses in The Little Review.
For a wealth of information on pioneering Modernist periodicals see the website of the Modernist Journals Project, which includes a full digital run of all issues of The Little Review in which Ulysses appeared. The serial Ulysses is notably different to that of the 1922 volume version.
# 3: Letter from Mary Jane Joyce to James Joyce, March 2, 1903.
A good deal has been written about James Joyce’s father, John Stanislaus Joyce (1849–1931), but rather less has been said about his mother, Mary Jane Joyce (née Murray, 1859–1903). This vivid and lengthy letter, sent to James Joyce in Paris, gives a deep sense of the connection and trust that existed between Joyce and his mother. It also gives a sense of Joyce’s family more generally. By 1903 James Joyce, born in 1882, was the eldest of nine. The letter mentions six of his siblings: Stannie, Charlie, May, Mabel, Florrie, and Poppie (but omits Eva and Eileen).
Determined to study medicine and to earn a supplementary income from writing, Joyce had left Dublin to live in Paris on December 1, 1902, and remained there, apart from a visit home for Christmas, until April 12, 1903. During that period, Joyce wrote to different members of his family quite frequently, and some of their responses survive—a little archive documenting the network of emotional ties and bonds within the family.
This letter stands out for several reasons. It communicates a sense of how Joyce’s mother held the family together and of the high regard she had for James, her eldest son. It is notably focussed on practical issues and includes cash to pay the landlady, advice on getting started in journalism, an undertaking to get a suit cleaned, and prayers for Joyce’s “spiritual and temporal welfare.” The style is particularly endearing. Mary Joyce, known as May within the family, writes with little punctuation and describes herself as “simply talking just as we would do at the fire here.” This must have been some solace to her son, who was struggling to find home comforts (like food, heating and company).
“You cannot get on in your line without friends,” she writes, with underlining for emphasis. This plangent line seems to foretell some of the bitter arguments which characterized and dogged Joyce’s authorial career. May Joyce did not live to see those arguments unfold or her son’s success and worldwide renown. Just five weeks after this letter was written, Joyce received an urgent telegram from his father calling him home. “Mother dying come home Father,” it said, if the testimony of Ulysses as autobiography is to be believed.
Aged 44, May Joyce died just four months later, surrounded by family members. Joyce was just 21 and was bitter and angry about the circumstances of her death. He told Nora Barnacle, whom he met the following year: “My mother was slowly killed, I think, by my father’s ill-treatment, by years of trouble, and by my cynical frankness of conduct. When I looked on her face as she lay in her coffin—a face grey and wasted with cancer—I understood that I was looking on the face of a victim and I cursed the system which had made her a victim.”
Nine children may seem like a large family. May Joyce’s full birth history is more extreme. Between 1880 and 1897 there seem to have been six other pregnancies which ended in either infant death, stillbirth or miscarriage. This equates to one pregnancy a year. As the eldest surviving child Joyce must have been aware of this. Ulysses is notably sensitive to patterns of birth. Leopold Bloom, for example, thinks a good deal about what his emotional life and marriage might have been like “if little Rudy had lived.”
Joyce’s mother, like Stephen’s in Ulysses, might be seen as “a poor soul gone to heaven” who had “saved him from being trampled underfoot.” But it cannot be said that she died “scarcely having been.” As this letter shows, May Joyce was a vivid presence in the life of her eldest son, and was, for a time, the center of his emotional world. Her unstinting belief in him was formative for his creative self-confidence. Her premature death hardened his determination to succeed and served him with a depth of emotional experience which he could immediately draw on in his writing.
Joyce did not ordinarily keep personal correspondence because he moved so frequently. But, somehow, he kept hold of this letter. A tiny fragment of a rich and complicated life, the letter points to Joyce’s mother’s significance in his formation, and to the fundamental correlation between Joyce’s own life and the lives depicted in Ulysses.
#4 Sylvia Beach’s subscriber’s list for Ulysses, 1922.
This tiny ledger, meticulously compiled by Sylvia Beach, records subscriptions for the first edition of Ulysses. It serves as a potent reminder of the necessary administrative labor and organization going on behind the scenes at Shakespeare and Company. Ulysses, issued in a limited edition of 1,000 copies on February 2, 1922, the occasion of Joyce’s fortieth birthday, had sold out by June 15, 1922. In no small part, this success must be attributed to Beach’s considerable energy, efficiency, and business acumen.
Beach agreed to publish Ulysses early in April 1921 and had drawn up a prospectus by mid-month. She anticipated publication in October, and a book of 600 pages. The completed work ran to 732 pages and publication was delayed because Joyce rewrote and added so extensively on proof pages. The self-imposed deadline for publication on his fortieth birthday was fortuitous, as otherwise Joyce might never have finished rendering the proofs, by his own account, “illegible with interlineations.”
Subscribers were not required to pay until publication, and this first page of the subscription ledger records the names of some who opted to pay in advance. It includes some interesting names, notably Alec Waugh (brother of British novelist Evelyn Waugh); Harriet Weaver and Dora Marsden, editors of The Egoist; W. B. Yeats, who is cited and mocked several times in Ulysses; and Joseph Maunsel Hone, former director of Maunsel and Company, the Dublin publishing firm which had refused to issue Joyce’s Dubliners in 1912. It must have been gratifying for Joyce to see such names coming in.
Writing to her sister Holly, Beach represents the moment when she agreed to publish Ulysses as one of instant success: “Ulysses is going to make my place famous. Already the publicity is beginning, and swarms of people visit the shop on hearing the news.” But the success of Ulysses was not guaranteed. Subscriptions did not come in that quickly; there were only 260 orders by August 7, 1921.
The reluctance to commit to purchasing the book, sight unseen, can undoubtedly be attributed to price. Signed copies on Dutch paper were 350 francs, $30 or £7/7 sterling; large format copies on French handmade paper were 250 francs, $22 or £5/5 sterling; and “ordinary copies” were 150 francs, $14 or £3/3. As a point of comparison, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was being sold, at the time, for $1.50 or 7/6. These were standard book prices for a hardback novel, and they give a sense of the scale of investment readers needed to make in order to acquire even an “ordinary” copy of Ulysses.
Beach took a considerable risk in committing to Ulysses, and in allowing the extra expense generated by extensive rewriting at the proofing stage. The process did not make her any great fortune, because she gave Joyce a royalty of 66% on the net profits. The publication of Ulysses, however, certainly made her bookshop “famous” as she had predicted, but it did so primarily because she worked tirelessly on Joyce’s behalf.
#5: Harriet Weaver’s account page for James Joyce Esq, 1923–1924
This single typed page of figures reveals much about Joyce’s income. It is a record of regular amounts paid to Joyce by Harriet Weaver’s solicitors, Monro, Saw and Company, a firm based in London. In sum, it shows that Joyce owned investments to the value of £22,850 in June 1924, when the account was made up.
Until June 1915, Joyce earned an income from teaching English in Trieste. His financial situation became much more precarious when the upheavals of World War I forced a very rapid move to Zurich. As Weaver became aware of the quality of his work and the difficulty of his material circumstances, she began to give Joyce money, including payment for the rights to publish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses in serial form, and, from May 1917, regular quarterly payments towards his living costs.
Weaver was born to considerable independent wealth but had moral scruples about unearned income. She wanted Joyce to have financial independence, believing that this would be the best way of giving free artistic rein to his “searching, piercing spirit.” Acting anonymously in May 1919 she gave Joyce an investment of £5000 in the form of a “war loan” that generated a regular income of 5% per annum, or £250.
The exact detail of the financial arrangement here is unusual. In effect Weaver had been one of thousands of small-time investors who had responded to the British government’s appeal for capital to pay the considerable costs of keeping an army on the Western Front. In return she was guaranteed an income from this “war loan” until either 1929 or 1947 (both dates shown on the document, and being the points at which the government could repay the original sum). What Weaver did with the “war loan” was to sign the interest on the investment over to Joyce, in effect giving him a stable income – a certainty expressed in a pithy bit of “war loan” copy (“unlike the soldier, the investor runs no risk”).
Joyce’s exact political views in relation to World War I are not easy to discern, but certainly he did not question the ultimate source of this income. To do so would have been complicated given the fissures that participation in the war caused for Irish cultural and political nationalism. Instead, Joyce buried himself in his work, and there is a clear correlation between the arrival of Weaver’s munificent gift and his decision to write a Ulysses of a much greater length.
Though generous, the money Weaver gave Joyce in 1919 was not enough to cover Joyce’s needs. Dramatic inflation, coupled with serious volatility in exchange rates, followed the war. Thus, Weaver made the decision to follow up with further financial gifts in the form of investments made on the London Stock Exchange, all detailed on this single page, which reveals an income of £962 for the year from July 1923.
With careful choices, this sum could have afforded Joyce a comfortable lifestyle. But he was particularly good at spending, and his children remained largely dependent on him. He drank heavily, ate out on an almost daily basis, lived in expensive furnished apartments within hotels, and incurred significant and unavoidable medical bills.
When financial pinch points arose—and they did so regularly—he drew on the capital invested in his name. His estate was valued for probate at £980 at the time of his death in 1941. Weaver’s estate, valued for probate at the time of her death in 1961 was £17,618, significantly less than the sum she had given to Joyce by 1923. As others have suggested, Weaver did not obviously leave her signature on Joyce’s oeuvre but it is clear that, without her generosity, both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake might never have been completed.
#6: James Joyce’s Ulysses (Published for the Egoist Press, London, by John Rodker, Paris,1922), inscribed by Joyce for Jane Heap
Jane Heap worked tirelessly to ensure that Ulysses appeared regularly in The Little Review between March 1918 and December 1920. In New York, in February 1921, she stood trial alongside Margaret Anderson for the offence of publishing the final part of Ulysses, chapter 13 (“Nausicaa”). She was deemed guilty of publishing an “obscene” text, finger-printed, and fined $50. Joyce therefore had reason to inscribe this copy of Ulysses “in token of gratitude” on Heap’s first trip to Paris, and their first meeting in person, in 1923.
It is not clear what Heap and Joyce really made of each other. The published and unpublished correspondence leaves no record, and Joyce did not even know who Heap was when she first wrote to him on January 9, 1920, to explain that she felt The Little Review was “making an audience for your work.” Archival evidence suggests that it was Heap, not Anderson, who did the lion’s share of the considerable work involved in getting the content of The Little Review through press and mailed to subscribers. Anderson could be antagonistic and disengaged, and Heap was often left with the practical tasks of working with the printer, attending “to the door and telephone” and scraping together the money needed to pay for paper, postage, and printing.
Of the women associated with the publishing of Ulysses, Heap is the most difficult to get to know. Her absence from the record stems, initially at least, from the fact that her writing is either unsigned, or only signed with italicized lower-case initials—jh—as though to emphasize in typographical language the insignificance of her role, and to conceal her gender and identity more generally. As editor of the “Reader Critic” column in The Little Review that published the responses of readers to Ulysses as it was being serialized, Heap defended Joyce on multiple occasions, telling readers firmly that Joyce “has no concern with audiences and their demands.”
Even before the case against The Little Review came to trial, Heap published “Art and the Law,” a pre-emptive defence that pointed to the “heavy farce and sad futility” of “trying a creative work in a court of law.” However, with respect to the specifics of Leopold Bloom’s activity on Sandymount Strand, Heap skirts the issue of its specificity. She claims not to understand “Obscenity” and suggests that “Girls lean back everywhere, showing lace and silk stockings; wear low cut sleeveless gowns, breathless bathing suits; men think thoughts and have emotions about these things everywhere—seldom as delicately and imaginatively as Mr. Bloom.” What she sees in Bloom is “unpreventable” and “unfocused sex thoughts.” Heap knew there was more to the fireworks but turned a blind eye, given that the matter was sub judice. Joyce may not have been aware of Heap’s defence, which is ultimately also a plea for more openness about sexuality, and particularly better education for “young girls” beyond what is characterized as “a few obstetric mutterings.”
In addition to Anderson, Heap’s other female lovers included Florence Reynolds, Djuna Barnes, and Elspeth Champcommunal, the editor of Vogue. Joyce appeared not to notice that Heap was gay and did not make any comment on the blatant homophobia expressed by John Quinn, who defended The Little Review in the Ulysses trial of February 1921. Heap was one among a circle of gay women who supported Ulysses (others include Margaret Anderson, Sylvia Beach, and Adrienne Monnier). That they did so can be attributed to a belief in the power of Joyce’s vision, a willingness to engage in championing libertarian causes, a collective desire for greater candour about sexual preferences and sexual experience, and broad support for the fight against censorship.
“In token of gratitude” is the exact phrase Joyce used to inscribe his number 1 copy of Ulysses to Harriet Weaver, a prized object now on display at the Museum of Literature Ireland in Dublin. It is interesting to see Joyce using the phrase again in inscribing this copy for Heap. This is the Egoist edition of Ulysses, published by John Rodker in Paris for Weaver in London in October 1922. It is therefore an association copy in several senses, and points to the nexus of feminine material support which Joyce’s Ulysses was so fortunate to secure.
#7: Letter from James Joyce to Ludmila Bloch Savitsky, June 20, 1921
This is an unpublished letter in French from Joyce to Ludmila Bloch Savitsky (1881–1957) who did much to introduce Joyce to French literary circles by authoring the first French translation of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Dedalus: Portrait de l’artiste jeune par lui-même (Paris: La Sirène, 1924). Savitsky was an accomplished writer, critic, and translator who could work confidently between English, French, German, and Russian.
Ezra Pound had given Savitsky a copy of Portrait just before Joyce arrived in Paris early in July 1920. Pound was hopeful that she might agree to take on the considerable challenge of translating a work that was daring in its stylistic innovation, and unlikely to bring much renumeration. Not only did Savitsky agree to do the translation she also offered Joyce and his family the opportunity to live in her apartment, free of charge, an opportunity which Joyce accepted with alacrity.
Joyce’s arrival in Paris was initially planned as a stay of three months (“in order to write the last adventure Circe in peace”). In the event he stayed for twenty years and spent the first three months in Savitsky’s apartment on the rue de l’Assomption. Savitsky moved easily within Parisian cultural circles and had been one of the first subscribers to the lending library which Sylvia Beach operated from Shakespeare and Company. She was also responsible for organizing the party at which Joyce and Sylvia Beach met.
Most of Savitsky’s work on Portrait was completed by April 1921, but it proved difficult to find a publisher willing to commit to issuing the work, as this letter suggests. Savitsky was an accomplished translator who also completed translations of work by May Sinclair, Ezra Pound, H. D., John Rodker, and Virginia Woolf. But Joyce felt that she was slow to translate Portrait and implies so strongly in this letter. Were she to take on Ulysses (“un petit bouquin”, a little book), Joyce quips, it would not be ready until April 1, 2999.
For reasons not of Savitsky’s own making, Portrait took over two years to get published by La Sirène, with whom Joyce signed a contract on August 11, 1921. Joyce eventually recognized that Savitsky had produced an extremely good translation of Portrait. But the experience was alienating for Savitsky who came to see translation as a “thankless occupation” which took her away from writing of her own. Savitsky did not become involved in the translation of Ulysses into French undertaken by a team that included Auguste Morel, Stuart Gilbert, and Valery Larbaud. This took several years to complete and was published in 1929 by Adrienne Monnier, Beach’s lover and the owner of La Maison des Amis des Livres, French language bookshop and lending library, which was also located on the rue de l’Odéon, just across from Shakespeare and Company.
Only half of Joyce’s unpublished correspondence has been published to date. Of the 3,793 items known to be extant, 1,868 remain unpublished, though this situation is set to change thanks to a new digital edition. Ellmann’s biography, which first appeared in 1959 is more than sixty years old, and is in need of revision. Biographers and editors need to confront the issue of Joyce’s relations with women, particularly those such as Savitsky, who worked so hard to help him find an audience.
#8: Jefferson Market Court House, New York, Ca. 1905
What was it like to be put on trial for the “crime” of publishing an instalment of Ulysses serially in The Little Review? It is difficult to get a detailed sense of this as a lived experience, or to know how to express that experience in visual terms. No transcript was made of the trial proceedings, and there was no written decision handed down. But this photograph of the Jefferson Market Police Court in New York’s Greenwich Village communicates something of the world in which Anderson and Heap found themselves moving when the case came to trial before three magistrates at the Court of Special Sessions in February 1921.
The imposing building, now a branch of the New York Public Library, was one of several local courts at the time, and was not especially familiar to John Quinn, the lawyer representing Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, who more ordinarily represented commercial clients in higher courts. The building, a commanding example of High Victorian Gothic, included multiple holding cells, a women’s prison, and various courtrooms, and must have been an intimidating place to be. Writing to Ezra Pound, John Quinn described “police officers in blue uniforms with glaring stars and buttons, women and men by twos and threes awaiting arraignment or sentence. . . chauffeurs awaiting hearing; pimps, prostitutes, hangers-on and reporters.”
Placed in this scene, Anderson and Heap were clearly fearless, and brought many supporters and friends to witness proceedings. What they do not appear to have fully reckoned with is that John Quinn, the lawyer acting in their defense, did not believe that the case was winnable, and was inadequately prepared. Nor did they realize that Quinn had become extremely hostile towards them, partly because of the risks taken by The Little Review but, more significantly, because they were gay. An unpublished letter from Quinn to Pound refers to Anderson and Heap as “two pissing rabbits. . . doing the lesbian business.” All the qualities which one might seek in a lawyer—someone who is calm, unemotional and in control of the fact—seem to have been lacking in Quinn. His homophobia is particularly shocking.
The judgement that the last instalment of chapter 13 of Ulysses was obscene had far reaching repercussions for Anderson and Heap personally. Anderson floundered. Her memoir of the period recalls not knowing “what to do about my life—so I did a nervous breakdown that lasted several months.” Heap, by contrast, was animated by the criminal record which now stood against her. She reorganized The Little Review as a journal of “protest” and continued as editor until a final issue of 1929.
For Joyce, and for the text of Ulysses, the ruling was also extremely significant. Ulysses had been deemed obscene even before it was finished, and Joyce set about rewriting it in response to the legal judgement. In revising for publication in volume form by Shakespeare and Company, he frequently took the opportunity to up the ante. Details which had been deemed too candid and too explicit for the New York legal system in 1921 now became more candid and more explicit in revision.
The significance of the Little Review Ulysses trial of 1921 is not widely known or appreciated. For example, the trial of 1921 is often confused with the later and more well-known U.S. trial of Ulysses in 1933 (“United States v One Book Called Ulysses”). Another confusion which often arises is the question of who or what was on trial. Was it James Joyce, the editors of The Little Review or the specific content of the third instalment of ‘Nausicaa,’ as published in the July–August 1920 issue?
On this it is possible to be completely clear: it was Anderson and Heap, as editors of The Little Review, who stood trial, but the evidence on which the magistrates had to base a decision was that of Joyce’s text. The trial turned on close reading, on what exactly Leopold Bloom was up to on Sandymount Strand, and “whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences.” The odds were stacked against Anderson and Heap. Quinn’s legal practice was ordinarily commercial and his defense was inadequately prepared. Clearly he was the wrong lawyer for the task. Once the magistrates read the infamous fireworks scene, they decided the pair were guilty as charged, took their fingerprints, fined them $50 each, and ordered them to stop publishing Ulysses in The Little Review.
#9: A single page from Helen Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist by his Daughter-in-law,” begun in 1955. James Joyce Collection, Harry Ransom Center, 7.3
In chapter 9 of Ulysses when Haines asks Buck Mulligan whether Stephen Dedalus has written anything “for your movement,” Mulligan responds with derision, saying that Dedalus is “going to write something in ten years.” Writing is something that can always be put off, and writers who commit to writing regularly and for publication are the exception not the rule. Writing is difficult, after all. Difficult, but necessary: particularly if you want certain things to be remembered.
Helen Kastor Fleischman (1894–1963) married Giorgio Joyce, Joyce’s son, on December 10, 1930. She was more than 10 years older than Giorgio and the marriage did not last, following her nervous breakdowns in 1938 and 1939. In the intervening years there were, however, many happy moments, particularly with Giorgio’s parents, and these are remembered here, in an unpublished typed memoir begun after seeing an obituary notice for Adrienne Monnier, who died in June 1955.
The memoir begins by evoking the atmosphere and personalities of the rue de l’Odeon, where Adrienne Monnier ran La Maison des Amis des Livres and Sylvia Beach ran Shakespeare and Company. Helen Joyce made Joyce’s acquaintance while dining out with her first husband and remembers an evening of drinking and casual chitchat. Before long she had become a regular visitor to tea in the Joyces’ apartment, a “pleasant and informal affair” served by Nora while “Babbo” (as he was known within the family) “sat in his favorite chair”.
Evening parties tended to be rather wilder, and were attended by “the Stuart Gilberts, the Eugene Jolas’s, Sam Beckett, McGreevy” and so on. With whiskey and cognac flowing, there would be singing and dancing, and “old melodies” played at the upright piano, with everyone joining in. Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier did not fit in easily at these parties, and Harriet Weaver, “a small and mousey woman of indeterminate age,” appears to have found them particularly trying. Her annual or bi-annual trips to Paris were dreaded by the family, if this account is to be believed.
Helen Joyce was aware that Weaver “had turned over a huge fortune” to Joyce and noted that “the best tea service” was brought into play on the occasion of her visits, when she would “insinuate herself into the life of the Joyces.” “Miss Weaver would be staying at some obscure little Hotel” and “would appear promptly at four every afternoon,” and opted not to dine “in the restaurants that the Joyces frequented.” Little details like this, the stock-in-trade of memoir writing, help to fill out a sense of Joyce’s world, and the separation he maintained between the women who helped him as a writer, and those with whom he preferred to socialize.
Memoir is a particularly important component in the evidence needed to write biography. Aside from Weaver, three other women were particularly important for the first publication of Ulysses: Margaret Anderson, Sylvia Beach, and Jane Heap. Anderson was the first to write her account. Her My Thirty Years’ War appeared in 1930 and is full of facts and opinions about Joyce and The Little Review. Beach struggled to write her memoirs which she began to commit to paper as early as 1927. Shakespeare and Company, her account of her business and relationship with Joyce, was published in 1959. Neither Heap nor Weaver ever wrote an account of their encounters with James Joyce, an absence which has shaped biographies and existing criticism.
The absence of memoir is only part of the issue. Joyce appears not to have kept the correspondence which he received from the many women who supported him. By contrast, there’s a significant archive of Joyce’s correspondence. A feminist approach to Joycean biography needs to attend to the skewed and imbalanced nature of the evidence, and work out how to appropriately recover the achievements and significance of women that are all too easy to forget.
#10: Page 709 of the final corrected page proofs of Ulysses (1922), James Joyce Collection, Harry Ransom Center
Joyce was still adding to the text of the final eighteenth chapter of Ulysses less than two weeks before the first edition was published on 2 February 1922. This single page of proof reveals much about the complications of the process. Working in two colors of ink – red and black – Joyce has gone through the text at least twice in order to correct typographical errors, and insert new additions to the text. Notable errors that he catches include “as tone” corrected to “a stone” and “thatand” corrected to “that and”.
In order to communicate a sense of Molly’s fast-flowing stream of consciousness (and her underdeveloped skills in literacy), Joyce has chosen to omit the apostrophes normally used for contractions (in words like she’ll, didn’t, I’d). This makes the text harder to read, and it certainly posed a challenge for Darantiere’s French-speaking printers who knew little English, and had to reverse an established lexical rule. “Doesn’t” appears in the very last line; Joyce catches the “error”, with a tiny ‘x’ in the margin.
This page shows Joyce making two further embellishments to the text. “with her lips so red a pity they wont stay that way” under a pastedown at the top of the page is Molly’s comment on Milly’s looks. The addition at the bottom of the page (“his father must have been a bit queer to go and poison himself” etc.) is Molly’s reflection on Bloom’s father’s suicide, and shows how Joyce continued to add detail to the plot even at the very last stage of the work. It must have been particularly laborious for Darantiere’s team to reset these pages. The text here, page 709 on proof, is moved to page 717 in the printed edition, a shift which gives a sense of quite how much Joyce added at the very final stage.
One reason he could add so significantly and so freely to the chapter relates to the nature of Molly’s thought process, which is endlessly capacious, passionate and human. This chapter records Molly’s uninterrupted thoughts as she lies in bed next to “Poldy” in the small hours of the morning, reflecting on the eventful day that was 16 June 1904. This page is mainly focused on Molly’s thoughts about her daughter Milly, and thus connects back, in particular, to Bloom’s thoughts about Milly which are vividly depicted in chapter 4. There’s a sense of jealousy and tension between mother and daughter, recorded in little phrases such as “of course any old rag looks well on you then”, and “she cant feel anything deep yet”. Nora Barnacle, Joyce’s life long partner, was a clear source of inspiration for the creation of Molly, and Molly’s relationship with Milly seems to mirror that of Nora’s with Lucia, who was 14 at the point when Joyce was finishing the work, almost the same age as Milly.
Joyce described this chapter as the “clou” or key of the book, and considered it to be “more obscene than any preceding episode”. He was reacting to the legal reception of The Little Review, and upping the ante, a response which is evident on this page in Molly’s candid reflection that she “never came properly till I was what 22 or so it went into the wrong place always”.
Feminist criticism has been largely appreciative of the detailed and vivid ways in which Joyce creates credible female characters. But it is notable that none of the female characters are as clever as Stephen Dedalus, and that Joyce’s female characters are mostly interested in fashion, gossip and sex. None of the female characters are as clever and accomplished as the quartet of female publishers and editors who worked so hard to make the achievement of Ulysses possible: Margaret Anderson, Sylvia Beach, Jane Heap and Harriet Shaw Weaver.
Ordinarily a history told through objects focusses on big and important ones. In Fintan O’Toole’s History of Ireland in One Hundred Objects (2013), the objects are iconic, and a tangible part of permanent displays on view in various Irish museums: The Book of Kells, the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch, James Connolly’s shirt. The first edition of Ulysses might have been included in O’Toole’s list. Ulysses is certainly a vivid and important element in Ireland’s literary history, and the National Library of Ireland owns what might be regarded as the most important of the Ulysses first editions: the number 1 copy which Joyce gave to Harriet Weaver “in token of gratitude”.
It is generally the case that the objects which make up this “Ten Objects” series are not so iconic. With the exception of the luminously blue first edition (#1), the things celebrated are ephemeral, scrappy and might easily have been lost: the “American Number” of The Little Review, a periodical printed on cheap acidic paper which now crumbles to the touch; a letter from a mother; a handwritten notebook documenting monies taken in a Paris bookshop over 100 years ago; a typed page of accounts; an inscription in a book; a hastily written business letter; a photo of an old building; an unpublished memoir of a figure who lived on the margins; a page of proof correction. In the process of sifting through the vast archives associated with Joyce’s career, literary historians could be forgiven for overlooking the significance of these objects, and the connections between them.
Certainly, these are not the kinds of things ordinarily deemed worthy of permanent display, and they have never been on display as a group before. But these objects tell an important story of the material and emotional support which made the experiment that is Ulysses possible. The ephemerality of the objects collected is illustrative of an issue which faces feminist literary history: the problem of evidence and the need to work with scraps, gaps and silences.
John Quinn dismissed Anderson and Heap as “two pissing rabbits” and Ezra Pound described Beach as a “flunky” who had been “useful to Joyce”. In seeking to escape from such overt misogyny and to correct the historical record, Women and the Making of Ulysses places value on the work women were doing behind the scenes. This involves focussing on the evanescent, and on objects which are not necessarily exciting or pleasing to look at, or of immediate and obvious interpretive significance.
Work and money are recurring themes, and are exemplified by objects such as Beach’s “subscriber’s list” (#4), and Weaver’s “account page” (#5). Memoir, as noted, has an important function within literary history, and the absence of any first person account by Weaver is an obvious and problematic gap. While Helen Joyce’s unpublished “Portrait of the Artist by his Daughter-in-Law” (#9) disparages Weaver as “small and mousey”, it is clear from many sources that Weaver’s support was utterly formative for the achievement of Ulysses, and continued years after Joyce’s death.
In her role as Joyce’s executor, Weaver took utmost care to preserve a certain and reverential view of Joyce, and acted with judicious regard to her own privacy, and the wishes and interests of surviving family members. She maintained a strong friendship with Sylvia Beach long after Joyce’s death. It is perhaps fitting to end this series trying to imagine the kinds of conversation they shared, and looking at a chance survival: a photo of them holding hands in London in June 1960, at the Paris in the Twenties exhibition.