The Turkish publisher Aylak Adam announced on its Facebook page on 5 December that it would soon be putting out a new book that would ‘make the 76-year wait worthwhile’. In 15 days time, ‘the yearning would come to an end’. Readers began to speculate: was Hermann Broch’s Sleepwalkers finally going to appear in Turkish? Further clues from the publisher followed: the forthcoming work was a ‘crossword’, an ‘illustrated riddle’, a ‘multifaceted, massive obelisk’. Last Friday, three days before publication, the answer was leaked: the first volume of a translation of Finnegans Wake, by Umur Çelikyay of Istanbul’s Koç University.
In one of his recently published letters to his wife, Véra, Nabokov gives yet another version of the legendary encounter between Joyce and Proust in 1922. The various accounts of the meeting (many of them collected in Richard Ellmann’s Life of Joyce) disagree on almost everything, though it probably happened at a party given by the writer Sydney Schiff to celebrate the opening of Stravinsky’s Renard in Paris on 18 May. According to one version of the story, Joyce arrived drunk and poorly dressed; Proust, draped in furs, opened the door.
On Saturday, for the 90th anniversary of Bloomsday, Radio 4 broadcast a seven-part ‘dramatisation’ of Ulysses, possible now that copyright in Joyce’s work has lapsed. The broadcasts were slotted into the schedule to coincide with the timing of the novel.
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!’