Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sylvia Beach, dream bookseller

I think you'll enjoy my post today over at the Constant Conversation about The Letters of Sylvia Beach (2010), which revels in an account Beach gave of how bookselling works at its best.

The collection, which I've spent the past week flipping through, offers many charms, especially for Joyce fanatics (which, for all my admiration of Ulysses, I am far from being). Take this passage, from a note to Joyce's benefactor Harriet Weaver, from June 6, 1922:
Dear Miss Weaver,

It was so kind of you to send me a copy of the "Sunday Express" containing James Douglas' attack on "Ulysses" and all those mess writings.

I took them at once to Mr. Joyce and read them to him as he is always impatient to hear of any articles. He gets very much depressed and bored lying in bed and Douglas' article quite made him forget the pain in his eyes for the moment but he seems to be somewhat too excited at present. I think it is good for him to have something to think of that takes him out of himself however. The doctor says that his eyes are better and that he is suffering mostly from his nerves now.Add the near-constant back-and-forth with Joyce's representatives, international publishers, and lawyers regarding publication details about Ulysses, and it's hard to imagine any Joyce devotee not being fascinated by this volume.

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