The first of only twenty copies ever made of Irish modernist author James Joyce reading from his seminal and famously demanding tome Ulysses in 1924 is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York next month. One of only three suspected working copies remaining – the rest having been cracked or lost – the 12″ recording has been signed and dated by Joyce, and will be set at a guide price of $15,000-$20,000.
Never sold, but rather distributed among friends and family, the recording was produced by Joyce’s publisher Sylvia Beach as a private venture and is thought to be the only audio recording of the author reading from Ulysses in existence.
Because of his failing eyesight, it is said to have taken Joyce several takes to nail the final cut, memorising huge swathes of text from the Aeolus episode of the epic, which maps Homer’s Odyssey onto a day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom.
Of the lot, Sotheby’s have said: “Our research indicates there are perhaps no more than two or three unbroken copies of this record extant and even shattered examples are almost unheard of in commerce.” [Via The Irish Times]
Listen to a crackly extract from the reading below: