How’s this for a stocking stuffer? On December 14 Christie’s New York will offer a newly discovered manuscript of a chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The manuscript is an early draft for the Circe episode, the longest and arguably most important of the novel’s 18 episodes. It consists of 27 large sheets covered with dense handwriting, with additions on the back in Joyce’s own writing. Every page is filled with corrections, deletions and additions in the margins. It is expected to realize between $600,000 and $900,000 at auction.
“This work is of enormous importance to Joyce scholars, and will almost certainly furnish new insights into the creation of the work,” maintains Christie’s manuscripts specialist Chris Coover. “No manuscripts of any part of Ulysses were believed to exist in private hands.”
The manuscript is accompanied by the original postmarked envelope, addressed in Joyce’s hand, which was sent to American collector and lawyer John Quinn. It was Quinn who successfully defended the American publishers of the Little Review in 1921, when their serial publication of Ulysses led to their being charged with the publication of obscene material. Quinn was also the owner of the only complete manuscript of Ulysses, which he purchased from Joyce.
That manuscript is now in the Rosenbach Library and Museum in Philadelphia. ♦