James Joyce's Ulysses

James Joyce (1882-1941) has been called the greatest 20th-century novelist writing in English. Ulysses is his masterpiece. The manuscript of Ulysses is among the premier treasures of the Rosenbach. Dr. Rosenbach owned a first edition of the novel – the banned book had been smuggled into the country for him in 1922. He purchased the manuscript at the auction of lawyer John Quinn’s collection in 1924. (Quinn had defended Joyce and his publishers against obscenity charges under the Comstock laws in 1920.) Selections from the manuscript are always on display.

The Rosenbach celebrates the Joycean tradition annually on Bloomsday, June 16. Bloomsday, the only international holiday in recognition of a work of art, brings scholars, devotees, and the general public together on Delancey Place for a day of dramatic readings from the novel. The Rosenbach also produces a special exhibition related to Joyce and Ulysses, drawing from its substantial collection of modern literary materials.

The Rosenbach is continually working to open the text to the public through innovative programs such as our annual Bloomsday celebration and A Potable Joyce: A Watered Down Version of Ulysses, a theatrical performance for all ages incorporating the stories of The Odyssey, Ulysses, and Joyce’s writing of the novel

Collection Highlights

Photograph of 7 Eccles Street

In the fourth chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses, the reader meets Leopold Bloom, a middle-aged advertising salesman who is Joyce’s modern equivalent of Odysseus. In these pages, Bloom makes tea and toast for his wife, Molly, then leaves the house to get a kidney for his own breakfast. In 1950, a…

Two Worlds Monthly

The American publisher Samuel Roth serialized Ulysses in his new magazine Two Worlds Monthly, but without permission from Joyce. This acquisition completes the Rosenbach's set of the Two Worlds Monthly's pirated publication of Ulysses. American readers were exposed to the first chapters of Ulysses in the New York magazine The…

Ulysses: autograph manuscript, “Circe” episode

Joyce began work on "Circe" when he got to Paris in July of 1920. His work was slowed by a missing trunk of books and notes  that Stanislaus had sent from Trieste. By the time he finished this draft in December, he claimed to have written in out at least…

Woolsey Decision in U.S. vs. One Book Called Ulysses

In 1921, Ulysses was banned in the U.S. due to objections to masturbation in the Nausicaa episode. The issue was revisited in 1933 in the case United States vs. One Book Called Ulysses. In contrast to the earlier ruling, Judge Woolsey decided that obscenity was not to be defined by…

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