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JOYCE, James (1882–1941). Ulysses. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1937.

Thick small 4to (257 x 191 mm). Half–title, title–page printed in blue and black. Original calf vellum with the Homeric bow in gilt on covers (designed by Eric Gill), gilt–lettered spine, top edge gilt, others uncut and unopened; original slipcase with printed limitation label (light edgewear). Laid in with the publisher’s prospectus.

FIRST ENGLISH EDITION PRINTED IN ENGLAND, LIMITED ISSUE, ONE OF 100 COPIES ON MOULD–MADE PAPER SIGNED BY JOYCE (from a total edition of 1000 copies, this copy unnumbered). THIS COPY WAS RESERVED FOR PRESENTATION BY THE AUTHOR, with the words inscribed below the limitation reading: “Presentation Copy”. The only other copy of this edition of 100 that we could locate that bears the presentation inscription (this copy also unnumbered) was from Joyce’s private library now housed in the Poetry Collection at the University at Buffalo. They also hold two other copies of the Bodley Head Ulysses (1/900) that also bear the words “Presentation Copy” on the edition statement: one having been owned by Sylvia Beach.

This Bodley Head edition is arguably THE MOST HANDSOME EDITION OF JOYCE’S MASTERPIECE EVER PUBLISHED. The text was based on the Odyssey Press edition (1932), revised by Stuart Gilbert at the request of Joyce, and generally considered to be the “final and definitive edition” of the novel (prospectus). “Following on from the successful appeal against the ban on Ulysses in America and the success of the Random House edition there, John Lane’s Bodley Head published Ulysses in an edition limited to 1000 copies, its first publication in its complete form in Britain. There was still some fear at the time that the book would be prosecuted, and an article in the Law Journal of 16 March 1929 had indicated several heads under which the publication of Ulysses could be challenged in England. Then, late in 1932, Joyce heard that the Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, and his Attorney General, Sir Thomas Inskip, had discussed the book and had decided not to prosecute it if it was published in Britain. Joyce had wanted Faber & Faber to publish Ulysses in England, and Faber were already considering it even before the American ban on Ulysses was lifted in December 1933. But early in 1934, Faber decided that the time was not yet right in England. Publishers Jonathan Cape and Werner Laurie also decided against it… The plan was to bring out a limited edition of just 1000 copies, 100 copies of which would be a deluxe edition, signed by Joyce. It was also to be expensive: copies of the deluxe edition would sell for three guineas each while the 900 regular copies would sell for 30 shillings each. If that was successful, it would be followed by 3000 copies at fifteen shillings in 1935, and an unlimited edition selling for eight shillings and sixpence in 1936. In July 1934 Lane’s printers refused to print parts of the book, and Bodley Head had to set up its own printing company, Western Printing Services, to print it. Joyce, impatient with the slow pace of progress, threatened to withdraw, but Lane insisted he was going ahead. The problems between Lane and Joyce were added to when Laurence Meynell, in charge of typography and layout, suggested that Joyce should write descriptive running headlines for the top of each of the recto (right-hand) pages: Joyce refused. By then publication was scheduled for October 1935 but again Lane demurred, this time claiming that the prosecutor had been particularly vigilant in recent times and that it would be better to wait. Paul Léon, acting on Joyce’s behalf, worked closely with Allen Lane, John Lane’s nephew and later the founder of Penguin Books, to ensure that the book would be the best possible, and Léon was particularly complimentary about the meticulousness of the typesetting. Publication was now expected in 1936 and Joyce corrected the proofs while he was holidaying in Copenhagen in August and September. The last corrections were made by 3 September and printing of the 900 copies went ahead first because of a shortage of the paper for deluxe edition. The advertising campaign was low-key so as not to attract too much attention from the authorities. Advertisements claimed that this would be the ‘final and definitive edition’ of Ulysses but, despite the meticulousness of Lane’s printers, Joyce spotted mistakes in the appendices straight away, and Lane’s own readers discovered more. Joyce had been asked to write a preface to the book, but refused, and so the publisher decided to include material in appendices, as had happened with the Random House edition. Among the items included were the International Protest against Samuel Roth’s piracy, Judge John Woolsey’s decision, Morris Ernst’s Foreword to the Random House edition, and a Joyce bibliography” (The James Joyce Centre). Slocum & Cahoon 23.

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