Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Joyce's Masterpiece in Print - Ulysses: A Century Later


James Joyce's Ulysses
Shakespeare and Co., Paris.
Special Collections, University of Galway Library

As Leopold Bloom began his odyssey around Dublin with the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, on 2nd February 1922, so too began the story of the one of the most famous novels in all of English literature. Ulysses has captivated and confounded readers for a century since it was first published by Sylvia Beach in Paris and at her Shakespeare and Company bookshop. Within Special Collections of University of Galway Library is a rare fourth printing of the novel.

Sylvia Beach’s first printing of the novel in February 1922 ran to 1,000 numbered copies. The second printing by Egoist Press took place in London in October 1922 and ran to 2,000 numbered copies, with 500 of those famously burned by U.S. Post Office authorities. Egoist Press ran a third printing of the book with a further 500 copies in January 1923, with all but one sole copy of these being seized by Customs.

Printing run and previous editions. 
4th Printing

This fourth printing returns the story of Ulysses back to where it began, in Paris, and at Shakespeare and Company. The edition still contains the original packing slip from Beach’s shop, advertising it as a “Bookshop and Lending Library – Modern English and American Literature”. It was priced at 60 francs. At the end of the novel is a list of “Additional Corrections” with changes and edits made to the text. It was printed in Paris in January 1924, just before the book’s second anniversary.

Original packing slip from Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Paris, run by Sylvia Beach.

The book’s impact on reading, readership, language, and literature is unquantifiable. The edition is in excellent condition and a reminder of the power of words and reading to bring readers together to celebrate a novel a century after it was first published. 

Front Cover, Ulysses, 4th printing, University of Galway Library