Lot #677
James Joyce

Lamenting literary censorship in Britain where he “cannot find any printer,” Joyce responds to “kind words about my book Ulysses”
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Lamenting literary censorship in Britain where he “cannot find any printer,” Joyce responds to “kind words about my book Ulysses”

Extraordinary pair of ALSs, each one page, 8.25 x 10.5, dated 1918–1919. The first, November 1, 1918, in part: “As I have been so long absent from Ireland you must forgive me if I say that I am afraid I have forgotten you. Allow me however to thank you for your very friendly letter and for your kind words about my book Ulysses. Eight installments have now appeared in the Little Review of New York but unfortunately the Egoist (London) cannot find any printer to set up these chapters. They have also been delayed by my illness this year—a grave malady of the eyes to which I am subject. I beg you to convey my thanks also to your friend whose encouragement I appreciate very much. I have asked my friend Mr. Pound to send you some other chapters, if he has them.” The second, June 1, 1919, in part: “I enclose a snapshot taken by a friend of mine after my illness. I hope it will serve your purpose.” In overall very good condition, with intersecting folds with partial separations, vertical folds passing through single letters of each signature, and a few small edge tears.

Joyce encountered difficulties with his controversial masterpiece Ulysses in both Great Britain and the United States, with publishers reluctant to print the uncensored work due to obscenity laws. The editors of The Little Review supported subversive material and were willing to take the risk, but even they had trouble finding a printer; the Egoist faced an even greater challenge in the UK because both publishers and printers were liable to prosecution. These were realized in September 1920, when charges were brought against The Little Review after the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice lodged a complaint. The Little Review lost the ensuing legal battle and ceased its serialization of Ulysses, which was banned in the United States until 1933. It was also officially banned in Britain after a book-form version was successfully published in Paris in 1922, and remained illegal there until 1936. Handwritten letters by Joyce are extremely rare, especially those discussing his magnum opus and its important place in the history of artistic expression. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #458 - Ended August 12, 2015

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