Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare & Co., 1922. First Edition. Publisher's blue paper wrappers lettered in white. Light shelf-wear to spine edges and margins of wrappers, contents bright and clean. A very well preserved unsophisticated copy without any restoration. Loosely inserted ALS from Harriet Weaver on Egoist Press stationary relating to issues of The Egoist (mentions Portrait of the Artist & Ulysses) and a separate page listing various volumes available and prices (2 pages).
This copy Number 678 of 750 copies printed on handmade paper (from a total edition 1000 copies printed).
Early manuscripts of the novel show Joyce beginning to move beyond the more formally traditional work represented in his 'Dubliners' and 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' and towards his mature style. Introduced to Harriet Shaw Weaver by Ezra Pound, Joyce first hoped to publish the novel serially in her journal 'The Egoist' but legal problems resulting from the novel's presumed obscene content, halted this plan. Sylvia Beach of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris intervened at this seemingly desperate stage and Ulysses, published under her imprint, was revived for publication. The book was scheduled for release on February 2nd, 1922 (Joyce's fortieth birthday) but because of technical problems with printing the cover only two copies were ready by that date. Joyce asked that the wrappers of Ulysses be printed in the Greek colours - white on a blue field - as he considered the colours lucky for him, and they also 'suggested the myth of Greece and of Homer, the white island rising from the sea' [Ellman, p.524]. The precise shade caused the binders problems, and a sample was eventually mixed for their use by Joyce's friend, the artist Myron Nutting. The first 100 copies were printed on fine handmade paper, numbered 1-100, and signed by Joyce. Copies 101-250 were also printed on handmade paper, though of a lesser grade than the first 100, and were not signed by Joyce. The final 750 copies (as here) were numbered 251-1,000, printed on the least expensive stock of paper, and like the previous limitation, were not signed by Joyce.
The impact of Joyce's Ulysses was revolutionary in its own time, and the book continues to stand as the single most significant English language novel of the last century. The complexities of its formal structure, its linguistic inventiveness and its imaginative cohesion of historical sources have made Ulysses the most diligently studied work of modern literature in English. The publication of Ulysses was a trying experience for its author, and no less so than the difficulties endured while writing it.