Rotten Rejections: James Joyce

“As might be expected, James Joyce’s writings excited some grandiose rejections. His Dubliners was refused by twenty-two publishers and then shot down in flames by an irate citizen. As Joyce reported it, ‘When at last it was printed some very kind person bought out the entire edition and had it burnt in Dublin–a new and private auto-da-fe.’ The odyssey of his Ulysses was even more spectacular–it was rejected, in fire, by two governments. Parts of the novel were serialized in the New York Little Review in 1918–20, and after rejection by a U.S. publisher the whole book was published in France in 1922 by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare Press. Copies were sent to America and England. They were, reported Joyce, ‘Seized and burnt by the Custom authorities in New York and Folkestone.’ Not until 1933 was the ban on Ulysses lifted; the book was published by Random House the following year.”

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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