“THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WORK OF MODERN TIMES”: REMARKABLE ARCHIVE OF CORRESPONDENCE BY SYLVIA BEACH, RELATING TO THE UNAUTHORIZED SERIAL PUBLICATION OF ULYSSES
BEACH, Sylvia. Correspondence relating to the piracy of Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1926. Ten 8-1/2 by 11 sheets (three Shakespeare and Company letterhead), one envelope. Housed in a brown leather notebook and a custom clamshell box. $12,000.
Original Sylvia Beach correspondence and typescripts relating to the piracy of Ulysses by famous publisher of erotica, Samuel Roth, in his magazine Two Worlds.
Correspondence includes: two three-page carbon typescripts of the New York Evening Post story outlining the accusations of piracy against Samuel Roth and his denial; two copies of a cable from Sylvia Beach to the Evening Post (one on Shakespeare and Company letterhead) stating "Two Worlds serial publication of James Joyce's Ulysses is unauthorized, unpaid for, and the text has been altered;" and a two-page Beach typed letter signed on Shakespeare and Company letterhead, dated November 18, 1926, accusing Roth of "pirating and mutilating" Joyce's book, signed "Sylvia Beach, Publisher of Ulysses." With an accompanying envelope is addressed in Beach's hand to Lloyd Morris, author of Incredible New York, from the "S.S. Mauritania."
After working seven years on Ulysses, Joyce, desperate to find a publisher, turned to Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company in Paris. "Within a month of the publication, the first printing of Ulysses was practically sold out, and within a year Joyce had become a well-known literary figure. Ulysses was explosive in its impact on the literary world of 1922… Then began the great game of smuggling the edition into countries where it was forbidden, especially England and the United States. The contraband article was transported across the seas and national borders in all sorts of cunning ways" (de Grazia, 27). In due time, a copy of Ulysses fell into the hands of famous New York publisher of erotica, Samuel Roth. This sheaf of correspondence relates to the unauthorized serial publication of Ulysses by Roth in his magazines Two Worlds and Two Worlds Monthly. Joyce won an injunction to stop Roth, and Beach launched an international protest of 167 authors against him, resulting in his being labeled "pirate Roth," a literary pariah. By the 1960s Roth had become America's "smut king," famous for the 1957 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which established the "Roth" standard for obscenity— that a work could be considered obscene only "if taken as a whole" and appealed to the "prurient interest" of the "average person."
Sheets lightly toned, paper clip mark to one margin, Beach letter slightly creased. A superb original documentation of this famous literary controversy.