Today is Father’s Day. It is also Bloomsday, that being a commemoration of the events of the great James Joyce novel Ulysses, which took place on June 16, 1904, in Dublin. The Rare Book Collection is enthusiastically celebrating both by posting here a serendipitous recent acquisition. The RBC is pleased to hold now the first publication of Joyce’s novel A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, in all its serial installments in the Modernist periodical the Egoist. In Portrait, Joyce introduces the character Stephen Dedalus, who reappears in his later masterpiece Ulysses. Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom might fairly be seen as a father figure to Stephen.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man debuted in the February 2nd 1914 issue of the Egoist, in the company of an editorial on “Men, Machines and Progress,” an article on Irish playwright J. M. Synge, and poems by H. D. It finished in the September 1st 1915 issue, which also included a piece on Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, the French sculptor who had been friends with Ezra Pound and had just died tragically in World War I.
The Egoist set acquired by the RBC has 48 issues: volume 1 number 1 to volume 3 number 12, in the publisher’s original blue half-leather binding. It is in remarkably clean and stable condition for a publication usually found in a fragile state.
This marvelous survival joins many splendid Joyce volumes donated to UNC-Chapel Hill by Mary M. Patton and James R. Patton (A.B. 1948). These include the famous first edition of Ulysses (1922)—number 20 of the first 100 copies printed on Dutch handmade paper—as well as the first book edition of A Portrait of an Artist as Young Man (1916), inscribed by Joyce.
More than just a mere rarity, the Egoist periodical gives us the broad, Modernist context for Joyce’s novel, intellectually amplifying the author’s opening quotation from the Roman writer Ovid on turning the mind to arts unknown.