Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Scandal of "Ulysses"

There's a photograph (so well known that I shan't bother to reproduce it here) of Joyce and Sylvia Beach sitting together in her office, behind them two placards of the type used to carry newspaper headlines. The top one, advertising Sporting Life (also known as 'The Pink 'Un) screams THE SCANDAL OF "ULYSSES", below which are some horse racing odds:


(I can find no record of these horses or any race they might have been in, although the last two seem to be Irish - the Curragh?)

Below that is another placard announcing Arnold Bennett's review of the novel. It appeared in The Bookman (August 1922, pp. 567-570). 'I see nothing very wonderful in this' he harrumphs Read him  here.

Has there ever been an anthology of other writers writing about Ulysses? I mean of other novelists? And has there ever been a collection of the many negative reviews of the greatest novel ever written? I have the hefty two-volumes published by Routledge in 1970 as part of their superb Critical Heritage series. I'm thinking of something more portable.


  1. If there is, I haven't come across it, David. I like your examing the photograph of Beach and Joyce to uncover context and thereby arrive at a more phenonomenological map of circumstance that would give us a bit more than a mere annotation to a text. Would that we had a date and a photograph of the author in the midst of composition of a page or consecutive pages of--say Finnegans Wake-- and then to comb through those photographs for clues: dress, bills, key in the lock or not, view through the window, clock on the wall, position of the sun, look on the author's face and hints there as to stress, health. What insights these details might offer in they were woven into a laurel of discourse to be fitted around, or held near the narrative as we perform it, or even worn like the Urim and Thuminn! Jesse Glass

  2. should be examining---and phenomenological--oh my eyes! :-)

  3. I like 'phenomenological' very much - it's perfectly Joycean! Thanks for this comment - and there are certainly photographs of Joyce taken during the composition of the Wake, although none of them, I think, show him in the actual process of writing, or dictating. Jesse - have tried to email you but it bounces back, so please DM me and I'll try again. All good wishes, David

  4. Of course I meant to type 'phenomenonological' not 'phenomenological'. How on earth did Joyce cope? With his eyes?

  5. Over-full in-box. I'll muck it out and write you again this weekend. Yours in Joyce and Arno Schmidt (another fav.) Syncopated on my best days, Jesse