Friday 27 March 2015

What’s in a name? James Joyce and a rare, misspelt encounter

Dick Barton

Published 29/06/2014 | 02:30

James Joyce
James Joyce
Inscription on rare edition of Dubliners
James Joyce

HE is Ireland's greatest literary figure, but even James Joyce was prone to the odd spelling mistake.

A rare signed first edition copy of Joyce's Dubliners is set up fetch up to €60,000 when it comes up for auction at Sotheby's in London next month.

The book was signed by Joyce while he was staying in Torquay, Devon, on August 4, 1929, and it was presented by him to Jacob Schwartz, proprietor of the Ulysses Bookshop in London.

On the inside cover, Joyce wrote: "To Jacob Schwarz (sic) James Joyce."

A spokesperson for Sotheby's told the Sunday Independent: "Despite Joyce's slight misspelling, the recipient (of the book) is almost certainly the proprietor of the Ulysses Bookshop in London, Jacob Schwartz. There are several references to Schwartz in Joyce's letters where Joyce omits the letter 't'."

First edition copies of Dubliners signed by Joyce are particularly rare and only two other signed copies of the book have been sold at auctions in the last 40 years.

The copy is coming up for sale at Sotheby's in London on July 15.

Joyce signed Schwartz's copy of Dubliners during the writer's two month holiday at the Imperial Hotel, Torquay, with lover and Connemara baker's daughter, Nora Barnacle.

Sotheby's said: "They were accompanied by Stuart and Moune Gilbert and were joined there by friends from time to time, many of whom cheered Joyce by the praise which they lavished on him."

In his award-winning biography of Joyce, the late Richard Ellmann recalls Joyce's stay in Torquay: "In his usual deliberate, though seemingly desultory way, Joyce read a series of strange newspapers and magazines. During the afternoons he lay on the beach, as he loved to do, fingering the pebbles for texture and weight. Occasionally he had a rush of energy and during one of these vaulted over a wall, but fell (because his sight was poor) on the other side, hurting his arm. In the evenings he went with (Stuart) Gilbert to local pubs, sipping a little cider (which he did not like) but mainly listening to several conversations at once and, to Gilbert's wonder, following them all."

The imminent sale of the signed copy of Dubliners neatly coincides with the centenary this month of the book's publication in June 1914.

When a signed copy of Dubliners last came up for sale at an auction it fetched STG£105,000 at Sotheby's in London on December 12, 2012.

The only other signed copy to come up for sale at an auction in the last 40 years sold for $230,000 at Christie's in New York on October 11,2002.

Schwartz privately published Joyce's 'James Clarence Mangan' under the Ulysses Bookshop imprint in 1930.

He was also the purchaser of the 'complete and final' proofs of Ulysses.

Sunday Independent

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