Ulysses at War

  • Paul Vanderham


Upon reading the first three episodes of Ulysses, Ezra Pound foresaw that Joyce’s novel would run afoul of censors on both sides of the Atlantic: ‘I suppose we’ll be damn well suppressed,’ he wrote to Joyce, ‘if we print the text as it stands.’1 Yet the risk of suppression, Pound added, was well worth running because of the brilliance of Joyce’s art. As foreign editor of The Little Review, Pound conveyed both opinions to Margaret Anderson in New York. According to Anderson, Pound praised Joyce’s work highly, but warned that ‘it would probably involve [them] in difficulties with the censors.’2 Anderson agreed on both counts. Upon reading the opening lines of the third episode (‘Proteus’) — ‘Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide’ — she declared, ‘This is the most beautiful thing we’ll ever have.’3 In the same breath she implicitly acknowledged that publishing Ulysses would involve a struggle with the censors: ‘We’ll print it if it’s the last effort of our lives.’


Esthetic Objection Strong Word Beautiful Thing Foreign Editor Earth Goddess 
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    Leslie Fishbein, Rebels in Bohemia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), p. 28.Google Scholar
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© Paul Vanderham 1998

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  • Paul Vanderham

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