Archiving The Ephemeral
An Exhibit in Occasion of NEMLA 2000 at Buffalo | April 6-May 5, 2000
- Exhibit Catalog
- History of Collection
Joyce's Family Portraits
Case #1: Shakespeare & Company’s Ulysses
Case #2: The Reception of Ulysses
Case #3: The Pirating of Ulysses and the Case Against Samuel Roth
Case #4: Ulysses in The Desert
Case #5: Censorship and the Lifting of the Ban
Case #6: Translations of Ulysses
Case #7: Joyce in Paris, "Work in Progress"
Case #8: Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Notebooks
Case #9: Eliot and Joyce
Case #10: Deluxe Editions of the Fragments
Cases 11 and 12: Finnegans Wake and Its Early Reception
History of the Collection
The materials that comprise the Joyce Collection at Buffalo were acquired from four different sources. A donation to the Library made possible the acquisition at auction of the majority of items from the 1949 exhibit of Joyce material entitled "James Joyce: Sa Vie, Son Œuvre, Son Rayonnement" at the Librairie La Hune in Paris. This exhibit had been organized by Bernard Gheerbrant, Maria Jolas and Lucie Léon, among others, with the prospect of selling the selected items that belonged to Joyce to benefit his family (1). The materials arrived in Buffalo in the autumn of 1950. Oscar Silverman, who viewed the exhibit in the company of Maria Jolas, realized that such a relatively complete manuscript record complemented the Poetry Project’s aim of gathering "all the tangible sheets a poet uses in making a poem" and augmented Buffalo’s already well-established collection of manuscripts and variant printings (2).
This first batch consisted of manuscripts representing all stages of most of Joyce’s works. Beyond that, there were also many letters, two decades of press clippings and journal articles of his works from the world over (which are a major highlight of this exhibit) (3), family portraits (on the walls above the exhibit cases), as well as his personal library and effects (4). These items were originally left by Joyce in his Paris apartment after his flight from that city in the winter of 1939 and were then recovered by Paul Léon, who remained in Paris out of family obligation too long and died at the hands of the Nazis. The story of Paul Léon’s heroic trips back and forth through the occupied streets of Paris with a workman and his wheelbarrow have been recounted often, but were it not for his valiant and successful efforts in preserving Joyce’s workshop, the breadth and scope of the Joyce scholarship that has followed, whether textual or biographical, would not have been possible (5).
Benjamin W. Huebsch, Joyce’s first American publisher and long-time supporter, donated the second batch in May 1951 and supplemented it with another in December 1959. Both batches consisted of page proofs of the front matter and two lists of errata for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as his correspondence with Joyce from 1915 to 1938.
The third batch arrived in Buffalo in the winter of 1959. This comprised a large portion of Sylvia Beach’s personal Joyce collection. Some of these items had been loaned to the La Hune Exhibit and were then part of the commemorative exhibit entitled "Les Années Vingt. Les Écrivans Américans à Paris et Leurs Amis. 1920—1930." This exhibit was organized by the American Embassy’s Centre Culturel Américain and opened in Paris in March 1959 (and in London the following year). This acquisition brought many further manuscripts, printed texts (mostly dedicated by the author to Beach, some of which are on view in the exhibit), an extensive correspondence concerning Joyce’s personal and business affairs and many photographs that document Joyce’s life and the Paris literary scene of the twenties and thirties. This batch augmented the Buffalo Joyce Collection by providing, among other important material, twelve further workbooks of Ulysses episodes, bringing to twenty the number of drafts of this relatively early stage of the novel. Sylvia Beach also sent over 1200 pages of typescript and 800 of galley proofs, all with additions and corrections by Joyce (6).
Shortly after Beach’s death in 1962 a further batch arrived in Buffalo. This consisted of the remaining portion of her Joyce Collection. As part of this batch came the 212 letters from Joyce to Beach, further first editions signed by the author and dedicated to her, translations, more photographs, as well as other significant manuscripts and letters. Most of these items were not included in the first edition of the collection’s catalog as that was published before the arrival of this batch.
The final major acquisition came from Maria Jolas in 1968. It consisted of 31 pages of six different transition galley proofs of Work in Progress printed and revised from 27 May 1927 to June 1928 for transitions 4, 5, and 11—13 (7).
1) Bernard Gheerbrant, James Joyce: Sa Vie, Son Œuvre, Son Rayonnement (Paris: La Hune, 1949).
2) See Charles D. Abbott, ed., Poets at Work: Essays Based on the Modern Poetry Collection at the Lockwood Memorial Library, (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1948), 12; and Oscar A. Silverman’s own description of his visits to the exhibition and the excitement with which the collection was received at the University: "James Joyce: Paris-Buffalo (The Joyce Collections at the Lockwood Memorial Library)" in the Grosvenor Society Occasional Papers, vol. 1, no. 1, February 1964.
3) Joyce’s personal newspaper clippings collection was in fact the first component of the Buffalo collection to be cataloged. (See the unpublished M. A. thesis by Jean Gilbert, "A Card Index to the Press Clippings in the Joyce Collection of the Lockwood Memorial Library," University of Buffalo, 1952). This collection is the single most comprehensive record of contemporary (1922-1941) reviews, critiques, and the reception of Joyce’s work extant. An electronic, revised index, A James Joyce Scrapbook: Joyce’s Clippings Archive at The Poetry Collection at Buffalo, compiled by Luca Crispi and Stacey Herbert, is forthcoming.
4) Although scholars had made use of some of the individual items in the collection prior to 1955, Thomas E. Connolly was the first to catalog and publish any part of it in his The Personal Library of James Joyce: A Descriptive Bibliography (Buffalo: University at Buffalo, 1955).
5) The financial assistance of Léon’s brother-in-law, Alex Ponisovsky, was vital at that juncture.
6) As so much of the novel was written for the first time directly on the typescripts and proofs, these manuscripts are an invaluable source of insight concerning the genetic development of the novel and the controversies over a "corrected" text.
7) The collection was previously cataloged by Peter Spielberg in his James Joyce’s Manuscripts and Letters at the University of Buffalo (1962) and is now being revised and augmented by Luca Crispi.