New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935. Item #03384
First Openly Published U.S. Edition
Illustrated and Signed
By Henri Matisse
JOYCE, James. [MATISSE, Henri, illustrator]. Ulysses. With an introduction by Stuart Gilbert and illustrations by Henri Matisse. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935.
First openly published American edition, limited to 1500 numbered copies signed by the artist, this being copy number 1251. Large quarto (11 3/4 x 9 1/8 inches; 298 x 230 mm.). xv, , 363, [1, blank], [1, colophon], [5, blank] pp. Twenty-six plates, consisting of six soft-ground etchings, printed by hand, and twenty lithographic drawings, made as studies for the etchings, printed on thin colored papers.
Publisher‘s brown Bancroft buckram embossed in gold on front cover and spine from a design by LeRoy H. Appleton. Edges sprinkled brown. Pictorial bookplate of W.S. Adams engraved by Alexander Runciman on the front paste-down. The gilt on the spine very slightly dull otherwise a very fine copy in a very good publisher's original slipcase. With The Limited Editions Club Monthly letter Number 77, October 1935, loosely laid-in.
When Limited Editions Club founder and publisher George Macy decided to commission Henri Matisse to illustrate his edition of James Joyce's Ulysses, he was boldly moving into difficult territory: the scandalous Ulyssess had been branded obscene and banned in the United States until 1933, just two years prior to this edition. When Macy initially approached Matisse, the artist confessed that he had not read the book; Macy provided him with a French translation. “The very next morning, M. Matisse reported that he had read the book, that he understood its eighteen episodes to be parodies of similar episodes in the Odyssey, that he would like to give point to this fact by making his illustrations actually illustrations of the original episodes in Homer!” (Macy).
Macy's original plan was for Joyce to sign each of the 1500 copies along with Matisse. The author only signed 250. The reasons are apocryphal: His poor eyesight was strained by the effort; writer's cramp; or umbrage that Matisse had illustrated Homer's Odyssey rather than his.
And who did Leopold Bloom travel with on his odyssey though Dublin (aside from Stephen Dedalus) on June 16th, 1904?
"Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phtailer."
Whether signed by both or just Matisse, this edition of Joyce's modern classic remains amongst the most desirable and collectible illustrated books of the twentieth century and one of the few livres d'pientres of the pre-WWII era.
Duthuit 235. Garvey 197. LEC Bibliography 71. Slocum and Cahoon A22.