An Post has unveiled two new stamps to celebrate the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s celebrated book Ulysses.
The Ulysses 100 stamps from An Post were designed by Amsterdam-based Irish designers, The Stone Twins. The stamp design is intentionally unorthodox, challenging, and unexpected, as well as modernist – exactly what you would expect from Ulysses.
Inspired by James Joyce’s use of the ‘Gilbert Schema’ within Ulysses, the two-stamp design consists of a total of 18 sections, which signify the number of chapters in the book. The stamp design overlays the colours and structure defined in Joyce’s ‘Gilbert Schema’, with photographs captured by renowned photographer JJ Clarke, a doctor from Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan who took vivid images of daily life in Dublin when he was a medical student there between 1897 and 1904. As Ulysses is particularly famous for challenging the conventions of language, the inverted type used in the stamp design was chosen to reflect Joyce’s experimental use of language.
The Ulysses 100 stamps and a special First Day Cover commemorative envelope are available at selected post offices nationwide and online at www.anpost.com/shop
An Post CEO, David McRedmond said: “The claims for Ulysses as the greatest novel of the 20th Century, and the first great modern novel, remain vibrant. Its 100th anniversary shows something else: that Ulysses is as relevant now as a work of art as when it was written. These stamps reflect the unique mix of modernism and classicism that define the novel.” Internationally renowned Joycean expert, Senator David Norris said: “Frozen in time the images on these stamps illustrate remarkably the period of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1904. It is tempting to think that in the world of fiction these stamps might have adorned Bloom’s letter to Martha Clifford. I congratulate An Post on their production to mark the centenary of the publication of Ulysses.”
Tell me about Ulysses? Stephen, the 22-year-old protagonist who previously featured in Joyce’s earlier novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, begins his day at the Martello Tower in Sandycove, while 38-year-old Leopold Bloom, a Jewish husband, father, and advertising executive starts his day of wandering from his home at 7 Eccles Street in North Dublin.
Set over 19 hours, Ulysses chronicles the encounters and interactions of the pair as they go about their day-to-day life. The narrative features streams of consciousness and inner-monologues from the characters, allowing readers complete access to their unfiltered thoughts on the places and people they encounter. It also features their views on the present, memories of the past, and concerns about the future.
Ulysses was first serialised in 18 separate parts in the American journal ‘The Little Review’ from March 1918 to December 1920 and then published in its entirety in Paris by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, Joyce’s 40th birthday. Beach, an American-born bookseller, and publisher, founded a bookshop and lending library in Paris called Shakespeare and Company in 1919. The shop specialised in books published in Great Britain and the United States and was a hub for expatriate writers to immerse themselves in the literary life of Paris.
What is the ‘Gilbert Schema’? Inspired by James Joyce’s use of the ‘Gilbert Schema’ within Ulysses, the stamp design consists of 18 sections which signify the number of chapters in the book. Recognising that readers needed support in grasping the nuanced allusions and intricate structures of the novel, the ‘Gilbert Schema’ was an 18-part episodic table produced by Joyce to help readers understand the enormous complexity of Ulysses.