New Peter Harrington Catalog Celebrates Ulysses and Modernist Masterpieces
London — James Joyce’s Ulysses was published at Paris’s Shakespeare & Co bookstore in Sylvia Beach on February 2, 1922. One hundred years later, the book continues to fascinate and exasperate readers around the world, often hailed as a “demonstration and summary” of the whole modernist movement.
Peter Harrington, London’s leading rare book dealer, celebrates the centenary of his publication with his new catalog titled Inexhaustible Life: A Modernist Centenary which presents 100 outstanding works written in the interwar period, a period of intense literary creativity, including several published in 1922.
“Edmund Wilson, in his 1931 assessment of the modernist movement Axel Castlealready understood that with Ulysses Joyce had created something forever: “The world of Ulysses is animated by an inexhaustible complex life: we revisit it as we do a city… And when we reread it, we go back to it at any time, as if it were indeed something solid like a city that really existed in space and which could be entered from any direction. If it can exhaust some readers, the text itself remains inexhaustible. We keep coming back to Ulysses for, like all great works of literature, it remains an ever-renewable source of energy,” says Sammy Jay, literature specialist at Peter Harrington, who curated this catalog.
Ulysses was published in imitation of the traditional French three-tier format aimed at both connoisseurs and readers: 100 signed copies on Dutch handmade paper; 150 copies printed on heavier Arches vergé to create a large paper format, and the remaining 750 copies on vergé à barbes forming the smallest commercial number.
Peter Harrington’s new catalog presents not one but three first editions of Ulysses, one of each issue, including the coveted 100 signed by Joyce, all in the original blue wrappers. Presenting the three together is a feat rarely achieved in the business.
Other catalog highlights include Joyce’s first available publication, “The Day of the Rabblement”, an article printed while he was still a student in Dublin, as well as two important translations of Ulysses: the French in a copy inscribed by Joyce to his favorite tenor John O’Sullivan, and an old Japanese translation, inscribed by the translator Ito Sei.
“In addition to Joyce’s historical novel, this catalog also takes the centenary as an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable number of other modernist masterpieces that were published or written in the literary annus mirabilis of 1922,” adds Jay .
“The creative explosion of the interwar period certainly had Paris as a hot spot, featuring extraordinary characters like the ‘Amazon’ salonnière Natalie Clifford Barney or the savages Harry and Caresse Crosby of the Black Sun Press. other bold expatriate editors were Robert McAlmon of Contact Editions, and of course Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare & Co. The catalog includes many outstanding items that celebrate the centrality of Paris in the history of modern literature, but also recognize literary breakthroughs and ongoing experiments around the world, from Bulgakov in Russia, or Cavafy in Alexandria, to Borges and Lorca in South America,” concludes Jay.