Ulysses was serialized in The New Yorker. One sentence at a time.

November 30, 2008

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

new-joyce

 

This comes from Ask the Librarians at Emdashes.com. I just realized that trying to summarize this would take just as long as the actual piece, so I’m going to be lazy and cut and paste. But I don’t want you to be lazy…when you’re done, click on the link above, where you’ll find many more interesting factoids like this:

Q. Is it true that at some point in the seventies, Goings On About Town used the listings for The Fantasticks to serialize James Joyce’s Ulysses?

Jon writes: Yes. The New Yorker began serializing Ulysses in the November 23, 1968 listing for The Fantasticks, which famously ran for 17,162 performances, or nearly 42 years. That issue quoted the copyright information from the third printing of the novel (London, Egoist Press). The book’s opening words-“Stately plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed”-appeared in the Dec. 21, 1968, issue. The serialization lasted almost three years, ending in November of 1971, and encompassed the entirety of the book’s first chapter. By the end, Ulysses had spread to the listings for other long-running musicals such as Hello, Dolly!, and Fiddler on the Roof. For about six months prior to serializing Joyce’s novel, the magazine had filled the Fantasticks listing with geometry (“The sum of the squares of the two other sides”), grammar (” ‘I’ before ‘e,’ but not after ‘c’ “), instructions for doing your taxes (“If payments [line 21] are less than tax [line 16], enter Balance Due”), and other nonsense.

In 1970, New Yorker editor Gardner Botsford explained to Time magazine that he began the serialization of Ulysses because he got bored writing the same straight capsule reviews week after week. Asked about reader response to the serialization, Botsford observed, “Many are delighted they can identify the excerpts, but others think we are trying to communicate with the Russian herring fleet in code.”

Time noted that Botsford might have been inspired by one of The New Yorker’s own writers. Robert Benchley handled theatre listings for the original Life magazine in the twenties, and once wrote of the long-running Abie’s Irish Rose: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.”

 

(P.S. I’m sorry about that image above. It was a good idea, but would have taken hours to to well. I hope neither James Joyce nor The New Yorker is too, too offended.)

One Response to “Ulysses was serialized in The New Yorker. One sentence at a time.”

  1. Mike Harmon Says:

    Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.


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