More Public Domain News – What’s This About Letters?

Mark O’Connell has a very interesting piece in the New Yorker’s “The Book Bench” about the new public domain status of much of James Joyce’s work. A lot of people have been waiting many years for this day, but the piece makes the important point that the Joyce Estate is not out of the picture entirely. The most widely used edition of Ulysses (up until now, anyway), the Gabler Edition, is still protected by copyright. Finnegans Wake is still protected in the United States. And then there are the works like Stephen Hero that were published after his death, and then there are the letters, published and unpublished. Sean Latham, the editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, has some tantalizing things to say about editions of heretofore-unpublished letters that are in the works! We will stay tuned.

If you want an exhaustive, if somewhat headache-inducing, guide to Joyce works and copyright, check out this FAQ from the International James Joyce Foundation. Short Version: There is no short version. But if you read the section on unpublished works, you can see where there’s a surprising bit of daylight that may explain why there are editions of unpublished letters in the works.

More Music, Please…

I just saw a music blog that offered up a new (for me at least) idea about “the introit” Mulligan speaks as the first dialogue here. It seems that the Latin may be sung, meaning the first spoken words in the novel might be intended as music to rouse Stephen from the tower. Interesting idea. here’s the link;’s-old-sweet-song-music-for-bloomsday/

This is an especially rewarding link, with ten sound files of Joyce music and a YouTube embedded reading by joyce of passages from the WAKE. Check it out. -Rob

Telemachus 0013

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[cf. 1922, 5:26-30; Gabler 1:94-99]

What does Mulligan mean when he calls Stephen a “lovely mummer”?  Here in Philadelphia, mummery capital of the world, we can’t help but think like this.

Sadly, this is probably not what Mulligan has in mind.  Rather, Mulligan means that he’s disguised, he’s pretending to be something he’s not.

The tradition of mumming came to Philadelphia from many places, but the strongest thread runs from Ireland & the other Celtic countries. By tradition, around the holidays, a gang of costumed men would go from house to house and basically trick or treat for booze.  There might be a play or a performance involved, but there’s a costume and some kind of entertainment and probably “something sinister” in having them come into your home… as Mulligan suggests.

And as for sinister… here’s another question for the masses.  Was Joyce left-handed?  Stephen, based on a number of references in this book, seems to be a leftie. And Joyce’s corresponding figure in Finnegans Wake, Shem the Penman, is left-handed.  Of course, even if Joyce were left-inclined, no school in Ireland would have let him actually write that way…

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