Random House 1934 by Stacey Herbert

This information was produced for the ‘Ulysses in Print’ computer installation at the James Joyce and the National Library of Ireland exhibition at the National Library in 2004. It also forms part of an account of the various editions of Ulysses by Stacey Herbert for the Genetic Joyce Studies Journal of the Antwerp Joyce Centre which can be accessed by following this link: Dr Stacey Herbert & Antwerp Joyce Centre

Random House
25 January 1934.

The first authorised American edition of Ulysses was wrapped in an attention grabbing, Art Deco, black and red wrapper. The edition included Woolsey’s landmark decision, a letter from Joyce to Cerf on the history of his battles with the censors, and an editorial ‘Foreword’ by Morris Ernst who said of Woolsey’s decision: “The precedent he has established will do much to rescue the mental pabulum of the public from the censors who have striven to convert it into treacle, and will help to make it the strong, provocative fare it ought to be.”

H. Woolf printed 10,300 volumes of 792 pages, on white wove paper, for publication on 25 January 1934, and sold for $3.50. An additional 100 copies were printed first to secure copyright.

Ernst Reichl designed this edition, bound in cream coloured cloth with the author and titled stamped in red and black on the front cover and author, title and publisher stamped in red and black on the spine.

In early February 1932 Sylvia Beach relinquished her publication rights to Ulysses: Joyce was now the sole owner of the world rights to the work. As Joyce looked for publishers for an American edition, he stipulated four conditions (none of which would ultimately be followed):
– there was to be no preface
– the text must be unabridged and unaltered
– the publication was to happen as soon as possible
– the text was to be based on the last (11 th) Shakespeare and Company printing and read by an expert proof reader

On 14 March 1932 Joyce signed a contract with Bennett Cerf of New York’s Random House to publish Ulysses. At that timeUlysseswas still banned in the United States. Cerf then engaged Joyce and Léon in his efforts to bring the issue to trial in the States.

At Cerf’s instruction, Léon pasted favourable opinions of Ulyssesinto a copy of the book and then posted it to Random House so that it would be seized by Customs and thus the book and literary opinions would be entered into evidence simultaneously. By 18 July, Cerf reported that the book had indeed been seized and Morris Ernst retained for their defence in a trial scheduled for that autumn.

In early spring of 1933, Cerf and Ernst were still waiting for a liberal judge to preside over their case. Finally on 6 December 1933, after three postponements of the trial, Judge John M. Woolsey ruled in favour of Ulysses. Joyce was amused that the American judge gave more publicity to Ulysses by listing the numbers of the pages containing so-called obscene material than any publisher would dare to do. Printing the first authorised American edition began immediately and the book was published just fifty days later on 25 January 1934. Random House also issued a large broadside, “How to Enjoy Ulysses,” as an advertisement and guide to the notoriously difficult work. Cerf had hoped to include in the book a version of Joyce’s famous schema outlining the parallels between Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey (a copy of which he claimed to have acquired from Joyce’s friend Herbert Gorman): Joyce refused.

The textual condition of the first authorised American edition is muddled and ironic. After years of legal battles to get Ulyssespublished in the United States and to protect United States copyright of the work, the New York publisher, Bennett Cerf of Random House, and his attorney Morris Ernst won the case, overturning the ban. Meanwhile, Samuel Roth had twice challenged Joyce’s American copyright. Between July 1926 and October 1927 Roth published unauthorised episodes of Ulysses in the Two Worlds Monthly magazine. Then, when Roth issued the title in book form, pirating the 1929 Shakespeare and Company edition, he effectively issued the first American edition of Ulysses. The Roth edition mimicked the Shakespeare and Company edition though its text was corrupt.

In a strange twist of fate, about three years later, the copy ofUlysses supplied to Random House to set the text for their 1934 edition was a pirated Roth edition, not the last printing of the Shakespeare and Company edition, as Joyce had specified in his negotiations with potential publishers. Many errors in the Random House edition demonstrate its regrettable patrimony. Molly Bloom’s diminutive for her husband is less dear in the Random House and Roth editions where Leopold is “Poddy” not “Poldy” (p. 62, line 14); and sustenance in both editions is ironically transposed into its opposite when “aliment” becomes “ailment” (p. 412, line 39).

The text of the 1934 edition was seriously flawed and it was only in 1940 that Random House proofed it against the Odyssey Press edition for their Modern Library imprint.

The James Joyce Centre reserves copyright on all material presented in its website www.jamesjoyce.ie. No page or file from this site may be copied or duplicated, in whole or in part, without giving full and appropriate credit to the original creator – Dr. Stacey Herbert and The National Library Of Ireland, Dublin. For further details please email Dr. Herbert c/o the James Joyce Centre: info[at]jamesjoyce.ie