In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Ulysses Arrives in the United States:A Perspective from Eighty Years Ago
  • Richard J. Gerber

On 25 January 1934, Bennett Cerf’s Random House published the first one hundred copies of James Joyce’s Ulysses in order to secure its copyright in the United States. While the text of the first “authorized” American edition of Joyce’s novel was set using Samuel Roth’s pirated (and faulty) edition, this did little to dampen the anticipation and importance of this event.

The publication history of Ulysses in America was filled with drama, intrigue, and legal proceedings for almost twelve years after it first appeared in Paris, but a clear sense of its emergence on the modern American literary scene may be discovered in the pages of what turned out to be the final issue of a little-known, eight-page, ten-cent, newspaper-style periodical that was published in North Carolina just twenty-one days after the Random House Ulysses made its debut.1

Contempo styled itself as “A Review of Books and Personalities,” offering “literary and social commentary.” It was initially published bi-monthly (and later every three weeks) but only for three years, between 1931 and 1934. It began as a college-dormitory newsletter, compiled by five students at the University of North Carolina, before it was moved to downtown Chapel Hill as an adjunct of the Intimate Bookshop. Though its duration was short, this journal distinguished itself among the best of the “Little Magazines” by showcasing the works of such authors as Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Eugene O’Neill, D. H. Lawrence, and other notable literary figures of that era. At the beginning, Ezra Pound served as Contempo’s foreign editor, as he did for a number of other similar journals. In addition to the James Joyce issue, Contempo had previously published special editions (all during 1932) exclusively devoted to work and criticism by and about William Faulkner, Hart Crane, and George Bernard Shaw. Thus, while its impact may not have been fully recognized at the time, Contempo is now regarded as one of the earliest and most important torch-bearers for literary modernism in America.

As the editors of Contempo began winding down their operation in late 1933, they asked Stuart Gilbert to serve as guest-editor for their final, special edition devoted to Joyce. He accepted the offer and started calling on a list of potential contributors, most of whom knew Joyce personally. He also secured permission to include a portion of [End Page 163] the first part of Joyce’s Work in Progress, which would not appear formally (in altered form) until five years later in 1939 as Finnegans Wake.

While a table of contents was never part of Contempo’s format, the astonishing quality and quantity of the contributions to the mere eight pages of its James Joyce issue deserve the following descriptive index:

CONTEMPO Volume III, Number 13

JAMES JOYCE ISSUE (Edited by Stuart Gilbert)

15 FEBRUARY 1934, Chapel Hill, North Carolina


  • Page 1: James Joyce’s “Work in Progress,” Part I (FW 7.20-10.23), continued on p. 4;

    Bennett Cerf’s “Publishing Ulysses,” continued on p. 2, comprising Cerf’s account of the censorship, trial, and publication of Ulysses in the United States;

    Stuart Gilbert’s “We’ll to the Woods No More,” including Gilbert’s expansion of a portion of his introduction to James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Study, further clarifying Joyce’s acknowledged debt to Édouard Dujardin’s Les Lauriers sont coupé as the source for Ulysses’s interior-monologue technique, and providing details about Joyce’s personal encounter with Dujardin.2

  • Page 2: Continuation and conclusion of Cerf’s “Publishing Ulysses;

    Modern Library advertisement for its editions of Joyce’s Dubliners (1926) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1928) and for the works of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Eugene O’Neill, Thomas Mann, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, Erskine Caldwell, Katherine Mansfield, John Dos Passos, and D. H. Lawrence.

  • Page 3: Richard Thoma’s “A Dream in Progress,” a discussion of “Anna Livia Plurabelle”;

    Samuel Beckett’s poem “Home Olga”—the first publication of Beckett’s acrostic poem based on Joyce’s...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 163-169
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.