On this day…28 March

On 28 March 1917 Ezra Pound wrote to Joyce about the Little Review.

When Ezra Pound contacted Joyce for the first time in December 1913, he claimed to work on behalf of four magazines, two in England and two in the US. The two US magazines he mentioned were the Smart Set and Poetry in both of which works by Joyce were later published. However, it was only in 1917 the Pound became foreign editor of the Little Review, a magazine that was to become synonymous with the publication of Ulysses.

The Little Review was founded by Margaret Anderson in Chicago in 1914 and later moved to New York. When Ezra Pound became its foreign editor one of his chief aims was to use the Little Review as a vehicle for Joyce’s writing. In his letter of 28 March 1917, Pound appealed to Joyce to find “SOMETHING” that he could publish in the Little Review. He told Joyce that the Little Review had 3000 readers and that it would be important for Joyce to be in touch with them.

Pound wrote that he didn’t want to interfere with Joyce’s work on “Odysseus,” as he called it, but hoped he would find some short pieces somewhere that could be offered to the Little Review. Desperate that there should be something, Pound even suggested that if Joyce has absolutely nothing for publication, that he might write a note saying that he had nothing at the moment because of his poor eyesight and promising something for the future.

Joyce replied to Pound on 9 April to say that he really didn’t have anything that he could publish. He had the “Hamlet” chapter of Ulysses but he felt it could not be cut down to the size Pound had suggested for the Little Review. He said he had some prose sketches but that they were locked in a drawer in Trieste, far from Zurich where Joyce was then living. However, following Pound’s suggestion, Joyce included a note to say he hoped to send something as soon as his health allowed, but that he was still under doctor’s orders. The note was published in the June issue of the Little Review.

In the March 1917 issue of the Little Review, Jane Heap announced that she had received Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and she promised “Next time I shall have something more to tell of Joyce, – something thrilling and personal,” probably anticipating from Ezra Pound that they would soon have something to publish. However, it was only in March 1918 that the first part of Ulysses was published in the Little Review. Over the next two years, despite the efforts of the US postal authorities, the Little Review serialised parts of Ulysses up to the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ episode which appeared in September 1920.


Sources & Further Reading:

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. I, edited by Stuart Gilbert, London: Faber & Faber, 1957.

Pound, Ezra: Pound/Joyce – The Letters of Ezra Pound to James Joyce with Pound’s Essays on Joyce, edited and with Commentary by Forrest Reid, London: Faber & Faber, 1968.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.


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