Miss Beach and Ulysses

  In 1922, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” became a classic almost overnight. It took a lot of trouble to get this sprawling, complex novel published. It was once considered obscene. It finally came out in a small Paris bookstore and was “considered by leading critics to be one of the greatest literary events of the century”. The New York Times reported that.
  Credit goes to Sylvia Beach. Beach opened a bookstore called “Shakespeare and Bookshop” in Paris in 1919. She soon became a central figure in the city’s small circle of expat writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, and Gertrude Stein. Back then, before paperbacks existed, most people rented books to read, and under the care of Big Sister Beach, writers, editors, publishers, and critics gathered together, and the bookstore became their literary salon. Ernest Hemingway wrote in his “Flowing Feast,” “I don’t know who has treated me better than her.”
  Beach had respect for all of them, but she respected Joyce the most . They had met at a potluck in 1920, and Beach saw Joyce slumped in a corner. The day after the acquaintance, Joyce stopped by the Shakespeare and Bookshop on Odeon Street, and soon began going there every day. During their long friendship, Joyce called her “Miss Beach”, although everyone called her Sylvia; Beach called him “Mr. Joyce”, but behind the scenes called him “The Melancholy” Jesus”.
  Joyce has been working on Ulysses since 1914. Beach spent 11 months helping Joyce proofread his messy manuscript, a job that didn’t go well because of his worsening glaucoma. Joyce revised and expanded Ulysses endlessly, even in the final stages of printing. Eventually, he wrote another third of the novel on proofs. As Beach proofreaded the tome, he solicited orders to cover the cost of a thousand copies for the first edition. In order to avoid possible trouble caused by “obscene”, she specially hired a person who did not understand English to print it.
  The book sold well from the start, especially among American tourists. In order to pass customs, Beach also used the cover of “Shakespeare in One Volume” or “Children’s Interesting Fairy Tales” as a disguise to buy many copies. Hemingway also helped her arrange for some books to be smuggled from Canada to the United States.
  Although Beach never signed a contract with Joyce, she released 11 editions of Ulysses. The issue of royalties arose in 1933, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the book was not an obscene publication. Joyce sold the rights to the book to a U.S. publisher without stipulating that Beach would also receive a portion of the book’s royalties. Beach is said to have put it this way: “From the beginning I thought that working with Joyce, or working for him, was a pleasure, a great pleasure, and the benefit was his.” But deep down, She was hurt a lot.
  Joyce did get rich, while Beach was on the brink of bankruptcy. As her writer friends left Paris in the 1930s, Beach’s bookstore struggled. During World War II, it was forced to close, and her bookstore never reopened.
  During World War II, Beach was imprisoned for seven months. After the war, she lectured and gave interviews about literary life in 1920s Paris. In June 1962, she co-dedicated to the Joyce Research Center, 21 years after Joyce’s death. On October 6 of that year, Beech was found dead in his room upstairs in the bookstore. She was found only two days after her death, at the age of 75.