Sep 23 2003 Kelly Norton
Today had started off bad enough, a sinus headache, an overcast sky and the general feeling of Monday. If I hadn’t been expected at the Audi dealership by 8:30, I would have tagged the alarm clock and gone back to sleep for a couple more hours holding out the unlikely hope that the day was coming off to a slow start. The drear would have probably continued were it not due in small part to the numbing effects of Advil and in large part to the arrival of a most unexpected gift. Sometime just after the lunch I decided not to take, I was sitting in a pool of my own grumpiness as I usually do on Monday when Steph walked over grinning and carrying a small brown paper bundle bearing an obscure address for Healy Rare Books, Galway, Ireland. Six layers of packing gave me plenty of time to speculate on what I might find in the center of it all. I first decided it was a nice hardcover copy of Ulysses, but as I continued to unwind tape and bubble wrap, I made adjustments for size and figured a nice hardcover copy of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. But the lingering question was, why order a hard cover copy of Ulysses from Ireland when Amazon makes them available with super saver shipping? The answer, as I found, is that nowhere on Amazon will you find a 1932 Odyssey Press edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The supposed “definitive edition” which was specially revised by Joyce’s request by Stuart Gilbert, and considered at the time to be the most accurate edition of the text and was even given the personal blessing of Joyce himself. It was also the last edition printed before the American ban was lifted; the fifth edition being the first American edition and widely known as Roth’s corrupt edition since it was based on the bootleg copies that were circulating despite the ban. Depending on where you fall in the debate over later editions of the text, my edition was the most accurate edition until either the 1961 Modern Library Edition or the 1992 Gabler Edition.
1932 definitive edition of ulysses
I’m still floored… what an incredible gift! I don’t really have any other books worthy of sharing a shelf with this one. I guess I will have to give it a shelf of its own. On top of that, I want to carry it around and show people, but I’m afraid that I’ll damage it. Maybe some photos will suffice.