James Joyce Museum Planned by University of Buffalo – Poetry News 9th May

We begin the week with a look at the Centenary of “Ulysses” and the planned museum for James Joyce.

James Joyce Museum Planned by University of Buffalo

The name of James Joyce is well known in literary circles. The famous Irish author penned “Ulysses” which is considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest novels as well as one of the hardest to read. What is not so widely known is that the largest collection of Joyce memorabilia is not in Dublin, his birth town, but in Buffalo.

The Joyce collection at the University of Buffalo has over 10,000 pages of notes, letters and original manuscripts as well as personal belonging that belonged to the poet. His personal memorabilia includes a selection of his glasses and canes as well as some of his first-editions library of books signed by T.S Eliot, Ernest Hemingway and William Carlos Williams.

It will now be possible for fans of Joyce to make an appointment in order to look at these literary pieces. However, the University are hoping to be able to create a museum to house the collection in order to make it and the collection more accessible to those who would like to learn more.

Their fundraising is already well underway and has just received a significant boost in the for of a grant for $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The conditions of the grant require that the university raises $300,000 to pay for the design phase of the construction of the museum.

It is estimated that the total cost of the funding required for the museum will be in the region of $10 million. This will include the ability to have permanent space for exhibits that will be shown on a rotating basis. There will also be a dedicated James Joyce curator.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of “Ulysses” and the University feel that it is appropriate to now be talking about sharing the collection with the general public. Whilst many people find his work quite hard to follow, over the years he has built up a collection of followers that rivals those of J.R.R Tolkien. In fact, every day on 16th June “Bloomsday” is celebrated all over the world; a day named for the character Leopold Bloom from “Ulysses”.

As part of the centennial, an exhibit has been curated by the University of Buffalo on the owner of Shakespeare & Co, the Paris bookshop who in 1922 were responsible for the publication of “Ulysses”. They were the only publishers who would touch the book in its uncensored form. Correspondence relating to this along with notes and other items linked to the book were given by the owner of the shop to the university, as it was felt this was the best place to house them, alongside the remainder of the items in the Joyce collection.

One particular aspect of the collection that really intrigues visitors is the original notes and manuscripts written by Joyce. When he revised his work, he always highlighted using coloured pencil, and this is something that people do not expect.

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