SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON, Francis J.C. (1878-1916) and James JOYCE. Two Essays. "A Forgotten Aspect of the University Question" ... and "The Day of the Rabblement". Dublin: Gerrard Bros. [for the authors], . 8° (211 x 138mm). Original printed pink wrappers (lightly faded at outer edges). FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 85 COPIES. Slocum and Cahoon Joyce B1.
Hugh Boyle KENNEDY (editor). St. Stephen's. A Record of University Life. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker and Eason & Sons, June-November-December 1901, vol.I, nos 1-3 [of 7]. 4° (270 x 198mm). (Scattered light spotting.) Original printed wrappers, the 3 issues contained in a later cloth box, gilt morocco lettering-piece (some spotting on wrappers, no.1 wrappers somewhat faded). Provenance: Sevin Sydi Rare Books, London (loosely-inserted bookseller's invoice dated 26 June 1987). FIRST EDITIONS.
FIRST EDITION OF JOYCE'S FIRST EXTANT PUBLICATION IN BOOK FORM WITH THE MAGAZINE THAT REJECTED AND THEN CONDEMNED IT. Joyce's early interest in drama, and particularly the works of Ibsen (on whom he had written) and Gerhard Hauptmann (whom he had translated), meant that the opening of the Irish Literary Theatre with Yeats' The Countess Cathleen was an event he anticipated eagerly, and he supported the production and its author fiercely against charges of anti-Irishness, feeling that the parochialism and dogmatism of cultural nationalism could only smother and distort artistic integrity. Furthermore, a national--but unnationalistic--theatre that saw itself as European, rather than celtic, would offer a suitable platform for own aesthetic agenda, expressed through the medium of his own plays and translations of Hauptmann. When the Irish Literary Theatre regressed, as Joyce perceived it, towards a more 'Irish' drama with productions of Douglas Hyde's Irish-language Casadh-an-tSugáin and Yeats and George Moore's Diarmuid and Grania (taken from Irish mythology), the young writer's violent reaction was 'The Day of the Rabblement', fulminating that: 'The Irish Literary Theatre gave out that it was the champion of progress, and proclaimed war against commercialism and vulgarity [... but the devil of the popular will] has prevailed once more, and the Irish Literary Theatre must now be considered the property of the rabblement of the most belated race in Europe' (p.).
Joyce submitted his essay to Hugh Kennedy, an established adversary and the editor of St. Stephen's, who in turn consulted Father Henry Browne (the magazine's advisor); Browne rejected the essay because of a reference to D'Annunzio's Il Fuoce, which was listed in the Index librorum prohibitorum. Concurrent with Joyce's troubles, his friend Sheehy-Skeffington was encountering similar obstacles in his efforts to publish his essay 'A Forgotten Aspect of the University Question'. Sheehy-Skeffington--whom Joyce considered 'after himself [...] the cleverest man at University College' (R. Ellmann Joyce, p.61)--was an iconoclast, pacifist, vegetarian, and supporter of equal rights for women. Frequently vulnerable to Joyce's sarcasm and provocation because the ernestness of his views (when he grew a beard to protest against shaving, Joyce bestowed the epithet 'Hairy Jaysus' upon him), his opinions were frequently the antithesis of his friend's, as is the case with the Two Essays: Skeffington had denounced The Countess Cathleen as anti-Irish, protesting in an open letter against 'an art [...] which offers as a type of our people a loathsome brood of apostates' (R. Ellmann Joyce, p.67). In turn, Sheehy-Skeffington's essay proposed equal status for women at the university; Joyce's contribution to the debate was a facetiously anti-clerical limerick, which would have doubtless infuriated his friend: 'There was a kind priest called Delany , Who said to the girls, "Nota bene, , 'Twould tempt the Archbishop , The way that you switch up , Your skirts when the weather is rainy"' (R. Ellmann Joyce, p.88). However, since both essays were rejected by St. Stephen's for different reasons, Joyce and Sheehy-Skeffington determined to publish them privately and the two pieces were yoked together in the present volume which was printed in an edition of 85 copies, prefaced by the statement 'These two essays were commissioned by the Editor of St. Stephen's for that paper, but were subsequently refused by the Censor' (p.).
The reaction to 'The Day of the Rabblement' from St. Stephen's in issue no.3 found expression in two forms; there were jocular references to the essay on pp.51 and 52 (the latter a letter from 'Chanel' to a lady correspondent, reassuring her that 'That dreadful Mr. Joyce is quite a respectable person in private life') and a serious editorial counter-attack (possibly by Kennedy), which concludes, 'If Mr. Joyce thinks that the artist must stand apart from the multitude, and means that he must also sever himself from the moral and religious teachings which have, under Divine guidance, moulded its spiritual character, we join issue with him, and we prophesy but ill-success for any school which offers an Irish public art based upon such a principle' (p.43). (4)