August 2015 | Rebecca Rego Barry

"Ulysses" and "The Little Review"

One of the top auction lots of the past two weeks was a pair of handwritten letters (ALSs) from James Joyce in which he discusses the notoriously troublesome publication of his masterpiece, Ulysses. In the first letter, dated November 1, 1918, Joyce writes, "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."

The Boston-based RR Auction offered the lot with a minimum bid of $2,500, but the final sale price was an astonishing $24,650.68.

Little Review.jpgThis extraordinary sale called to mind the fact that Yale University Press just released The Little Review "Ulysses" which, for the first time, brings together the serial installments of Joyce's novel the way it was first seen by readers of The Little Review between 1919-1920. Edited by Mark Gaipa, Sean Latham, and Robert Scholes, this new edition allows twenty-first-century readers to enjoy the evolution of Joyce's prose before the censors stepped in. With a beautiful color insert of the magazine's covers and essays that contextualize Ulysses, this new edition is a must for Joyce or Little Review fans or collectors.