Description

Following the legal scandal surrounding its serialised publication in the US, James Joyce secured a publisher for Ulysses in Paris, France. Sylvia Beach, owner of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop and an American expatriate, published Joyce’s second novel in 1922.

The advertising copy for this publisher's 'prospectus' draws attention to the Ulysses scandal: ‘ULYSSES suppressed four times during serial publication in “The Little Review” will be published by “SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY” complete as written’.

Beach, with suggestions from Joyce, sent out this 'prospectus' to potential customers. Featuring the bookshop’s striking logo on the front cover, it is essentially an advertisement for the publication, enclosing an order form to be returned to Beach. The Shakespeare and Company Ulysses was a ‘private’ edition limited to 1,000 copies. It ranged in price between 150, 250 and 350 francs, with the most expensive copies signed by Joyce and printed on Dutch handmade paper.

Although the prospectus states that Ulysses would be published in ‘Autumn 1921’, in reality Joyce did not complete the novel in time. Publication was delayed until 1922. As the novel had already partly appeared in print, however, Beach was able to include a selection of ‘Advance Press Notices’ on p. 2.

Who did this copy belong to?

This prospectus was sent to the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who was born and lived in Dublin until he was 20. As the pristine form reveals, Shaw did not buy a copy. In a letter to Sylvia Beach he stated that the editions were far too expensive and, although written by a ‘literary genius’, he found Ulysses distasteful for its ‘truthful’, ‘all hideously real’ depictions of life in Dublin. It is interesting, however, that Shaw kept the prospectus.

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