JOYCE, James (1882-1941). Ulysses, with an introduction by Stuart Gilbert. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1935. 4° (296 x 230mm), top edge cut and sprinkled brown, text printed in black in double columns, running title and pagination printed in brown, with six full-page etchings and twenty accompanying sketches on yellow and blue paper by Henri Matisse. Publisher's brown buckram gilt with embossed gilt upper cover design by LeRoy H. Appleton, spine embossed and stamped, in quarter leather gilt box (minor loss of gilt from cover design). NUMBER 172 OF 1,500 COPIES ON RAG PAPER, THIS ONE OF ONLY 250 COPIES SIGNED BY BOTH JOYCE AND MATISSE.
A FINE COPY OF A UNIQUE COLLABORATION BETWEEN ARGUABLY THE GREATEST WRITER AND THE GREATEST ARTIST OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. Matisse had never visited Ireland and so Joyce asked his friend and fellow Dubliner, T.W. Pugh, to send him an illustrated magazine from 1904, the year in which Ulysses is set, so that he could correctly render the details of Dublin life. However, Matisse chose to base his etchings on Homer's Odyssey, depicting the Calypso, Aelous, Cyclops, Nausicaa, Circe and Ithaca episodes of the poem. When asked why he had not illustrated the events of Joyce's novel, he replied: 'Je ne l'ai pas lu' ('I have not read it'; Ellmann, 686). Nevertheless, his etchings for this edition are outstanding examples of his art, offsetting strong, neo-classical figure drawing with a sparing use of half tone. The etching of the blinding of Polyphemus by Ulysses is a particularly powerful image. Matisse's preparatory sketches -- between two and five for each etching, printed on yellow and blue sheets of various sizes -- are in several cases very different from the finished image.
The text for this edition is based on that of the Odyssey Press edition (second impression, 1933; Slocum & Cahoon A20), which was revised by Stuart Gilbert at the request of the author. Slocum & Cahoon A22.