JOYCE, James. Original "Greek flag" blue printed wrapper for the 1922 Paris Ulysses. Broadsheet (379 x 560 mm), untrimmed, matted.
A VERY SCARCE SURVIVAL. An original, untrimmed copy of Joyce's famous Ulysses wrapper, with pencil note in upper margin: "Original extra binding in case book had to be cut up to pass the customs." Three vertical creases testify to the original owner's intent to secret the wrapper through customs in order to preserve the book (see previous lot) in its original wrapper should the wrapper need to be removed. Custom's officials were well-aware of Ulysses, and reception of the book unfortunately required such drastic measures: "Individual copies sent in the mail to the United States eventually began to arouse customs suspicions. They were held up and, eventually, when more than 400 copies had accumulated, they were confiscated and burnt" (Bruce Arnold, The Scandal of Ulysses, New York, 1992, p.31). Of the original 1,000 copies printed of the first edition, and 2,000 copies of the second edition, an estimated 500 copies were impounded by the U.S. Postal Services and destroyed. The wrapper itself was an important consideration to Joyce; he wished to match in color the blue of the Greek flag. Technical difficulties with its printing led to delays in the book's release, which was scheduled for Joyce's 40th birthday on 2 February 1922. Sylvia Beach made a special request from the printer, Maurice Darantiére, that two copies be ready on this date. Joyce expressed his appreciation for the book in a note to Beach: "I cannot let today pass without thanking you for all the trouble and worry you have given yourself about my book during the last year." Beach later wrote of their respective celebratory moods: "Here at last was Ulysses, in a Greek blue jacket, bearing the title and the author's name in white letters. Here were the seven hundred and thirty-two pages 'complete as written', and an average of one to half a dozen typographical errors per page."
The present wrapper measures 139 mm (5½ in.) taller than the trimmed and folded wrapper on the published book. We trace no other copies of a full-sheet wrapper at auction.