UVic celebrates Ulysses discovery for Bloomsday


Poring through the University of Victoria's Special Collections catalogues earlier this year, post-doctoral student Matt Huculak (English) stepped into a literary scholar’s dream: he had his hands on a pirated edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, within the pages of an obscure literary journal.

Huculak was scanning old library catalogues dating back to the early days of UVic’s precursor Victoria College when he spotted an entry for a rare magazine.   

“I recognized the magazine title in the catalogue,” says Huculak. When the box of papers arrived, the soft-spoken Huculak was so surprised he broke standard library protocol and shouted across to another PhD student, “You're not going to believe this!”

The box contained not only the first four issues of Two Worlds Monthly magazine, but also papers related to Joyce's early struggles to stop pirated copies of his work being sold around the world.  

June 16 is Bloomsday, the annual celebration of Joyce and his eponymous novel Ulysses. Huculak was working for the Modernist Versions Project (MVP), which was officially launched on the eve of Bloomsday 2012. Now, one year later, Huculak's discovery underlines the significance of UVic’s collection of original Modernist texts, which is among the very best in such holdings across Canada.

The same series from Two Worlds is held at 83 libraries including UBC’s and SFU’s. UVic has original copies, in especially good condition. (UVic Special Collections has now ordered the complete set of the monthly magazine as bound issues.)
Stephen Ross, an associate professor in the English department and one of the lead MVP researchers, explains the importance of Huculak’s find. “Not only does it help us understand the complex publishing history of Ulysses, it also sheds light on the origins of present-day international copyright law. Two Worlds published segments of Joyce's Ulysses without his permission as a protest against the US censorship restrictions at the time, but this literary piracy provoked an international protest by 167 authors in 1927.  That protest eventually led to our present-day international copyright agreements.”

UVic University Librarian Jonathan Bengtson adds, “It's exciting to see a new generation of scholars taking advantage of our rich Special Collections legacy and developing digital tools to make this legacy available to other readers and scholars around the world.”

More info on the MVP and digital humanities at UVic

Submitted by Dr. Elizabeth Grove-White (Dept. of English), with material from Dr. Ross and additional files from Susan Henderson, UVic’s libraries communications officer


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Keywords: Bloomsday, Modernist Versions Project

People: Matt Huculak, Stephen Ross

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