This is the 1934 American Random House edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Prior to 1934, Ulysses was effectively outlawed in north America following prosecution for obscenity against The Little Review (the American journal that serialised the novel from 1918 to 1920), and the seizing and destruction of the second London edition by the United States Postal Services in October 1922.
It was a landmark moment, then, when on 6 December 1933 US District Judge John M Woolsey ruled that Ulysses was an artistic, rather than pornographic, work, and therefore could not be declared obscene. Random House and lawyer Morris Ernst had arranged to import the French edition by ship, intending for it to be seized by customs – thus allowing them to dispute the claim of obscenity in court. Backed up by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in early 1934, this edition was subsequently published in 1934. Although not banned, the novel was still not freely available in the UK or Ireland. The preface to this edition provides detailed information on this ‘monumental decision’ (p. ix).
The 1934 edition was bound in a white cloth, now discoloured, with black and red type, and features striking typography on the title page and opening chapter.