James Joyce's Ulysses
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Dubliners. London: Grant Richards, 1914. First edition. Grant Richards, who first agreed to publish Dubliners without having read the stories in detail, soon raised objections voiced by his printer. To these Joyce replied: "His marking of the first passage makes me think there is priestly blood in him: the scent for immoral allusions is certainly very keen here." "In no other civilized country in Europe," he wrote Richards, "is a printer allowed to open his mouth." Nevertheless, Richards decided not to publish the stories, and only later relented, when Joyce had become better known. The sales were too low for royalties. Today, the short stories in Dubliners are considered among the finest of their genre, and "The Dead" is often referred to as the best short story ever written.
Dubliners. New York: The Modern Library, 1926. First Modern Library edition. Joyce recalled in 1932 that "No less than twenty-two publishers and printers read the manuscript of Dubliners and when at last it was printed some very kind person bought out the entire edition and had it burnt in Dublin--a new and private auto-da-fé." But by 1926, following the publication of Ulysses and Joyce's world-wide fame, these interlinking stories of everyday Dublin life were already taking on the status of a classic, as reflected by their inclusion in The Modern Library, which declared: "For the reader who has never sampled Joyce, 'DUBLINERS' is an ideal introduction."
Sylvia Plath's copy of The Portable James Joyce, ed. by Harry Levin. New York: The Viking Press, 1955. Plath considered writing her honors thesis at Smith on James Joyce, and this heavily annotated copy bears witness to the depth of her involvement. It is open to "A Painful Case," one of the stories from Dubliners. Joyce's influence on twentieth-century writers extended beyond fiction. The arsenal of literary techniques he introduced into the novel had an impact on many poets as well.