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Sylvia Beach

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posted on 2023-06-19, 14:48 authored by Dirk Van HulleDirk Van Hulle
Sylvia Beach

Bookseller and publisher Beach's long collaboration with JJ was among the most important developments of literary modernism. An American, one of three daughters of a Presbyterian minister, Beach's travels with the family to Europe presaged her settling in Paris in 1916. With the help of French bookshop owner Adrienne Monnier, in November 1919 she opened Shakespeare and Company, a lending library and shop devoted to English-language books. She and Monnier maintained a long relationship until the latter's death in 1955. Beach met JJ within days of his arrival in Paris on 8 July 1920; he quickly became a frequent customer. Following the prosecution in February 1921 of The Little Review in New York for including purportedly obscene episodes of Ulysses, Beach agreed to publish the entire Ulysses under the imprint of her shop. Beach negotiated for printing by Maurice Darantiere of Dijon, solicited subscriptions as a form of advance for JJ, arranged for typists of the manuscript, and managed to have the first two copies delivered to Paris on JJ's birthday, 2 February 1922. Giving JJ extraordinary royalties, she oversaw nine printings of Ulysses through 1931, during which time she also published in 1927 JJ's slim poetry collection, Pomes Penyeach, and in 1929 the collection of essays on the nascent Finnegans Wake, Our Examination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress. JJ exploited Shakespeare and Company as a secretarial office, a post office, and a bank. Yet, despite Beach's support, her relations with JJ soured as his popularity soared. Facing financial difficulties, Beach organized a sale of her manuscripts from JJ and other authors in May 1935. The German occupation of Paris led to Beach's abrupt closing of her shop in December 1941. Continuing as a Paris resident, Beach became a resource for the postwar growth of JJ scholarship. William Brockman


James Joyce's Unpublished Letters: A Digital Edition and Text-Genetic Study.

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Sylvia Beach



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