Just some odds and ends from the James Joyce world this week:
The occasion of Joyce’s 130th birthday this past Thursday meant that there was a lot of Joyce-related news:
First, Mary and Bryan Talbot’s collaboration —The Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes— was published this week by Dark Horse Comics. The comic tells the parallel stories of the relationships of Lucia and James Joyce and that of Mary Talbot and her father, James Atherton. Atherton was a prominent Joyce scholar – his “Books at the Wake“ is still a standard reference to Finnegans Wake. Here’s a story from Sex, Drugs & Comic Books about the book launch in London.
Sarah Funke Butler from Glenn Horowitz Bookseller wrote an interesting piece for The Paris Review for Joyce’s birthday. I don’t agree with all of her analysis of copyright law, necessarily, but there’s a great image of a manuscript note from “Sirens,” with an interesting discussion of Joyce’s writing process & the circumstances around the creation of Ulysses.
Old friend Damien Keane writes about Joyce and the resurgence of vinyl here.
Today, February 2, 2012, is the 130th anniversary of Joyce’s birth, and the 90th anniversary of the publication of *Ulysses.* Steve King’s account of the holy day in Joyce’s life gets the point across: it was very important that the book be delivered to him on this day, and his friends made sure that it was. While Joyce suffered at the hands of those who were afraid to publish his work, he also benefited greatly from the generosity of his friends — Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier – the couple who published it; Harriet Shaw Weaver, who supported him financially and emotionally; Valery Larbaud, who was one of the books first and best critics… not to mention Frank Budgen, or Joyce’s brother Stanislaus, or his Aunt Josephine. It’s a good day to give thanks for all the people around Joyce who made his creation of the book possible – and in that list we would have to give his wife Nora the highest place.
We have great things in store for you in this coming year — the great year of the public domain. Currently we’re working on the “floor plans” of “Nestor” and “Lotus Eaters” – two episodes that take place at the same time on June 16, 1904, so we’re having fun creating them at the same time as well. Many great coincidences and opportunities for interweaving of details. In the final months of writing *Ulysses* – the summer and fall of 1921, Joyce would work on several chapters at the same time — editing page proofs for early chapters as he was still drafting the final ones. (Add to the list of those who suffered that we might read the name of the printer, Maurice Darantiere, who set and reset and reset again the pages of the novel [in letterpress, no less] as Joyce made his thousands of changes to the text).
Stay tuned, friends, and take a short dip into the book today. As with any great work, a lot of people made it happen, not all of whom are found on the cover!
Mark O’Connell has a very interesting piece in the New Yorker’s“The Book Bench” about the new public domain status of much of James Joyce’s work. A lot of people have been waiting many years for this day, but the piece makes the important point that the Joyce Estate is not out of the picture entirely. The most widely used edition of Ulysses (up until now, anyway), the Gabler Edition, is still protected by copyright. Finnegans Wake is still protected in the United States. And then there are the works like Stephen Hero that were published after his death, and then there are the letters, published and unpublished. Sean Latham, the editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, has some tantalizing things to say about editions of heretofore-unpublished letters that are in the works! We will stay tuned.
If you want an exhaustive, if somewhat headache-inducing, guide to Joyce works and copyright, check out this FAQ from the International James Joyce Foundation. Short Version: There is no short version. But if you read the section on unpublished works, you can see where there’s a surprising bit of daylight that may explain why there are editions of unpublished letters in the works.
Originally attempted as part of the Rosenbach’s “Bloomsday 101” Program, here’s everything you need to know about Ulysses given in exactly five minutes. This was actually filmed in a dark cave below the streets of Dublin, secret bunker and received no sponsorship from Guinness. At least not yet.
…and don’t worry. I did end up drinking that pint.
Would you have guessed that the episode would end with a talking seal?
Professor Gifford is kind enough to remind us that in the Odyssey, seals are connected to the sea-god Proteus–they’re his informants. And Proteus is the title of an upcoming episode–not the next one, but the one after.
So you could say that the seal is telling Stephen that Mulligan is a usurper, or that when Stephen hears the seal’s barking, he imagines that it’s telling him that. Or maybe the seal has nothing to do with it.
A number of the episodes of Ulysses end on equivocal moments like this, where there’s a final word, a closing point, that seems to close the chapter like a well-made box (to paraphrase Yeats), but that leads off in a number of possible interpretive directions. You could even say the final episode, with its famous concluding “Yes,” is the ultimate example of this.
In any event, we’re left with this cinematic image of Stephen heading out into the world, without a home, without a clear path. What would it mean for him to have a homecoming? What kind of father would he seem to be looking for, if any? What exactly does he want, anyway?