The first week of February, Irish throughout the world celebrate the birthday of their famous ex-patriot James Joyce—what better way for me to celebrate than to pickup my worn copy of Ulysses and read a few passages. I did that, and then found myself engrossed in the forward where I found a brief essay about Judge Woolsey’s judgment exonerating Ulysses of the charge of obscenity. This decision, pronounced in 1933, allowed the US publication of the novel to proceed. Judge Woolsey struck a blow for freedom of expression that resonates today.
Following the forward of my Vintage International Edition, 1990, the Woolsey decision is printed in full. That is followed by a short letter from Joyce to Bennett Cerf, the Random House editor of the American edition. The letter gives Joyce’s personal take on the difficulties that he had with the publication of Ulysses in Europe. All of which is fascinating to read.
The Irish community in the USA is large and vocal, but the Irish also have an important presence in South America. Notably, the fifth largest Irish settlement outside Ireland is in Argentina. Perhaps in recognition of this, Libreria Santa Fe, the online bookstore headquartered in Buenos Aires, is promoting the 2002 Spanish language edition of Ulises. LSF has an extensive essay about Joyce and Ulysses in their blog and a brief summary on their Facebook page.
I hope that there will be many more years of celebration for both Joyce and for freedom of literary expression everywhere.
Day 21: Ulises (James Joyce, Spanish ed Santiago Rueda ) (2002).