Friday, June 13, 2008


Happy birthday William Butler Yeats
and Tyler Nolan.

James Joyce tried to emulate Yeats not in
writing but in music making.

One of Joyce's early ideas was to be a
traveling minstrel, sort of a 20th century
O’Carolan. He had heard that Yeats had recently
puchased a hand made lute. Here’s how he
explained it in a letter to Gogarty written
June 3rd, 1904:
“My idea for July and August is this - to get
Dolmetsch to make me a lute and to coast the
south of England from Falmouth to Margate,
singing old English songs”

And he told Padraic Colum that the tour would be
“personally conducted, like the Emperor Nero’s
tour in Greece.”

The plan didn’t work out. Dolmetsch, the one who had
made a similar instrument for Yeats, was hesitant
to make another one. He told Joyce that making a
lute would be highly expensive and “I could hardly
say when it would be finished. The lute is moreover
extremely difficult to play and very troublesome to
keep in order.” He recommended Joyce use a spinet
or harpsichord. Joyce gave up on the idea instead.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Good Day at Work for Ms. Beach

The first Frenchman to purchase a copy
of Ulysses was Andre Gide. (Actually, by
purchase, I mean fill in an order blank at
Shakespeare and Co to receive a copy of
the book when it arrived. )

The first American: Ernest Hemingway,
one of Sylvia Beach’s best customers.

Later that same day, Ezra Pound personally
delivered a subscription blank filled in
by W.B. Yeats and put in his order.

Imagine Andre Gide, Ernest Hemingway
and Ezra Pound all coming in your book-
store on the same day. That’s what I call
a good day at work.

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