[nycjoyce] Fwd: The Writer's Almanac for April 2, 2010

  • From: Nyccath@xxxxxxx
  • To: nycjoyce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2010 13:33:44 EDT

Be sure to scroll down to the story about the publication of Ulysses.
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  • From: "The Writer\'s Almanac" <newsletter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <nyccath@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 01 Apr 2010 22:45:07 -0700
The Writer's Almanac for April  2, 2010


How to listen


Molly Bloom's soliloquy  by James Joyce

"Â?I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the 
Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the 
Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him 
with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my 
mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me 
so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad 
and yes I said yes I will Yes."

"Molly Bloom's soliloquy" is presented in the eighteenth, and final, chapter of 
Ulysses by James Joyce. (c) Random House. Reprinted with permission.


It's the  birthday of novelist &Eacute;mile Zola, born in Paris (1840). He 
wrote a  20-novel cycle, which includes The  Drunkard (1877), Nana (1880), and 
Germinal (1885). Zola said, 'If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I  
will tell you: I came to live out loud.'

It's the birthday of Giacomo  Casanova, born in Venice  (1725). In 1785, he 
retired to a castle in Bohemia, where he set out to write his  memoirs. He left 
behind 4,000 pages of manuscript, later published as The  History of My Life. 
His memoir made him into a legendary hero, famous for  seducing women.

It's the birthday of the author of many of our best-known  fairy tales, 'The 
Little Mermaid,' 'The Emperor's New  Clothes,' 'The Snow Queen,' 'Princess and 
the Pea,'  and 'The Ugly Duckling,' Hans  Christian Andersen, born in Odense, 
Denmark (1805).
On this day in 1932 James Joyce wrote to Random House's  Bennett Cerf a famous 
letter detailing the tribulations of getting his novel Ulysses published. It 
was written in lieu of an Author's Preface, to be  included in the first legal 
edition of Ulysses in the English-speaking world, the version published by 
Random House in 1934.
  Ulysses had been in  print for 10 years by the time Joyce wrote this letter. 
It was published in  1922 by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, but the 
book was banned in the  English-speaking world.  Plenty of  Americans were 
reading the book anyway -- they were buying bootlegged copies  printed by 
unscrupulous printers -- and Joyce had spent the last decade deprived  of his 
rightful royalties as his book's popularity surged.
  Someone suggested to Joyce that he  could avoid legal trouble by publishing 
an expurgated version of his novel Ulysses, doing away with the passages  
deemed offensive. Joyce turned to him and replied: ' My book has a  beginning, 
a middle, and an end. Which would you like to cut off?'
  Even though it would subject him  to criminal prosecution, Bennett Cerf 
decided that he wanted Random House to  legally publish Ulysses in the U.S. He 
sent  word to James Joyce explaining his intentions, and Joyce responded with a 
 famous letter on this day in 1932, which began:
  Dear Mr.  Cerf, 
    I thank  you very much for your message. ... You ask me for details of the 
story of the  publication of Ulysses and since you  are determined to fight for 
its legalisation in the United States and to  publish what will be the only 
authentic edition there, I think it just as well  to tell you the history of 
its publication in Europe and the complications  which followed it in America. 
  ... You are  surely well aware of the difficulties I found in publishing 
anything I wrote  from the very first volume of prose I attempted to publish: 
  ...Without the collaboration of the Egoist  Press Ltd. London, conducted by 
Miss Harriet Weaver, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man might still be 
in  manuscript.
  ... I wish  you all possible success in your courageous venture ...
After he received  this letter from Joyce, Bennett Cerf devised a test case, a 
legal battle that  would result in the removal of the ban on the book. He 
arranged for a copy of Ulysses to be sent from Paris, and he told customs 
officials working  at the docks to make sure to seize it. But when the ship 
arrived, the people at  customs enforcement did not want to bother seizing it 
since, they said,  everybody brought that book. Cerf had to convince them to 
seize a copy of the  book so that he could have a court battle.
    But even then, the  government attorney who was assigned to prosecute the 
case did not want to have  to do the prosecuting -- he himself felt that 
Joyce's book was 'a literary  masterpiece' even if it was obscene according the 
language of the law.  Eventually, he brought an unenthusiastic lawsuit in 
district court in New York.
    Judge John Woolsey  wrote the famous decision, in which he said that with 
'respect of the  recurrent emergence of the theme of sex in the minds of 
[Joyce's] characters,  it must always be remembered that his locale was Celtic 
and his season  spring.'
    So Ulysses was now legally not obscene and  could be published in the 
United    States, the first legal publication of the  novel in an 
English-speaking country. Bennett Cerf heard the verdict, and 10  minutes later 
he had the typesetters at Random House working on Ulysses.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch

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