We’re celebrating the centennial of the publication of James Joyce’s seminal modernist novel Ulysses (1922) with a new exhibit featuring materials from Literary Special Collections at UMD!
A new exhibit on display outside the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library highlights the first appearances of Ulysses serialized in the literary magazine The Little Review and the subsequent obscenity trial that led to the branding of Ulysses as a banned book.
The Little Review was an avant-garde American literary magazine founded by Margaret Anderson that rand from 1914 – 1929. It developed into a highly influential literary magazine, publishing the works of many notable modernist artists including Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Elsa Von Freytag Loringhoven, and T.S Eliot. The motto printed on the front covers reads “Making no compromise with the public taste.”
In March 1918, The Little Review began publishing excerpts of James’s Joyce’s Ulysses. The magazine continued the serialization of the lengthy novel, breaking up chapters, or episodes, into smaller installments for several years. The first 13 episodes, and a portion of episode 14 appeared in The Little Review before the trial halted publication. The July 1920 issue of The Little Review featured Ulysses chapter 13, the “Nausicaa” episode, which came under fire for it’s highly metaphorical description of sex and masturbation. It was at that time the editors of The Little Review, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, were charged with distributing obscene material. Joyce went on to publish his full length novel in 1922 due to the efforts of publisher Sylvia Beach in Paris.
In August of 1920, one month after the appearance of the “Nausicaa” episode in The Little Review, John Sumner of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, issued a warrant to the the editors of The Little Review, Anderson and Heap, claiming the magazine violated the Comstock Act of 1873 due to the episode’s obscenity. Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap commented throughout the trial in the magazine:
“Mr. Sumner seems a decent enough chap . . . serious and colourless and worn as if he had spent his life resenting the emotions. A 100 per cent. American who believes that denial, resentment and silence about all things pertaining to sex produce uprightness.”jh “Art and the Law”, The Little Review. Vol. 7, no. 3, p. 7
In February of 1921, Anderson and Heap, were found guilty of circulating obscene material; forcing them to discontinue publishing Ulysses and pay a $100 fine total ($50 each). In the September 1920 and January 1921 issues of The Little Review, Anderson and Heap continued to voice their support of Ulysses and James Joyce. In “An Obvious Statement (for the millionth time)” Anderson writes: “James Joyce has never written anything, and will never be able to write anything, that is not beautiful”.
Explore more editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses and additional Modernist authors that appeared in The Little Review in our literary special collections.