Chapter 12: The Ineluctable Modernity of the Visible: The Typographic Odyssey of Ulysses in Interwar Print Culture

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Joyce was not always directly involved in decisions regarding the material shape in which Ulysses reached potential readers, but his interest in visual aspects of the written word appears to have made its impact on the novel’s text as well. Examining the specific significance of type choice – as part of the bibliographic code – in designing and promoting Ulysses as a printed text, this study traces some of the salient changes that accompanied the novel’s development from its first serialisation in the little magazines of the 1910s to its appearance as book in various editions of the 1920s, 1930s and in 1940 (the last to be issued during Joyce’s lifetime). It also draws upon contemporary and later assessments of the “character” of relevant typefaces and highlights the role of some influential European and American typographers, anchoring these early editions among the revivalist and modernist design trends of the interwar years. These analyses suggest that whereas the typography of most of the earlier editions, as well as their publicity materials, tended to rely on historicising typefaces to convey connotations of classic dignity, artistic quality and craftsmanship, editions in the 1930s began to borrow from modernist typographic trends to promote the book as a modern work.

Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses

Newspapers, Advertising and Printing


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