The tug of war over Joyce copyright continues. The National Library of Ireland has just released digital copies of a collection of papers bought from Alexis Léon in 2002 for €12.6 million, in response to an attempted copyright coup by Danis Rose. The NLI’s holdings are a stunning collection of Joyceana, consisting of an early Paris notebook from 1903 and notes for a translation of Dante’s Inferno, as well as 500 manuscript pages and 200 pages of annotated proofs of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. If it feels a bit like a rush job (the resolution isn’t great, though the NLI plan to publish better quality images to coincide with Bloomsday), that’s because it is. The NLI’s hand was forced when Rose released a six-volume edition of The Dublin Ulysses Papers earlier this year.
In 1936 James Joyce wrote a letter to his grandson: My dear Stevie, I sent you a little cat filled with sweets a few days ago but perhaps you do not know the story about the cat of Beaugency. The letter included his story ‘The Cat and the Devil’, a short fairytale with echoes of ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ and some delightful footnotes. ‘Stevie’ was Stephen James Joyce, who grew up to become the scourge of academic Joyceans as the fearsome executor of the Joyce estate. Academics, he once told the New Yorker’s D.T. Max, are like ‘rats and lice – they should be exterminated!’
Last month, Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old digital activist, internet analyst and anti-corruption researcher, was criminally indicted by a grand jury in Massachusetts for downloading millions of articles from the research database JSTOR. If convicted he faces a fine of up to a million dollars and a prison sentence of up to 35 years. ‘Stealing is stealing,’ the district attorney said, ‘whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.’