Why Sylvia Beach & Ulysses
To make a long history short, this first edition was sold recently to a record price of £275000,00 or US$416000,00, "the highest price recorded for a 20th-century first edition."
As you can read there and I quote:
Joyce's vast novel was met with
bafflement and anger when it was first published in 1922 with one reviewer complaining
that it "appears to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made
a speciality of the literature of the latrine".
The more salacious bits are in the last episode, where Molly Bloom's long stream-of-consciousness soliloquy ends in her orgasmic "yes I said yes I will Yes".
This first edition is unopened apart from that last episode. The copy is number 45 of the first 100 and is printed on fine Dutch handmade paper.
The dealer who made the sale, Pom Harrington, said the book was one of only four copies of that first edition print run, all signed by Joyce, which had been unaccounted for. "In terms of collectability, Ulysses is considered to be the number one 20th-century book. This is such a find and it is in such fabulous, pristine condition."
All the basic elements that propelled Joyce to his stardom can be spotted:
First and most of all, the prohibition was its biggest marketing device and it is impossible to think something that might do it better. And it was free...
The Molly Bloom monologue, which contained the "naughty bits" and the reversion of the attitude of the woman, which in the original Ulysses became an archetypical exmple of a faithfull wife broke a long and standardizes tradition and was sort of profecy to what was about to hapen to the morals of the 20th century...
Third, it is unreadable, better yet, only by the initiated, which are supposed to be sharper than the average mediocre person out there in the crowd. Even if you don't read it, to have one might get you a ticket to this special club...
Las, but not least, ie effectively is one of the most sophisticated examples of the use of the printed word in its possibilitites.