Thursday, 31 January 2013

When the stars align


"What spectacle confronted them when they, first the host, then the guest, emerged silently, doubly dark, from obscurity by a passage from the rere of the house into the penumbra of the garden?

The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit."
―  James Joyce, Ulysses

Wendy Weaver and Prof. Mike Groden at Starbucks

What happened on Tuesday January 29, 2013?

Wendy Weaver, Michael Groden and Michael Sherman met for coffee at the Starbucks in the Indigo Bookstore in the Manulife Centre to discuss James Joyce and to decide where to donate a 92-year-old copy of an historical periodical, known as the Egoist.

Who is Weaver? 

Wendy is a Toronto artist who is a distant relative of Harriet Shaw Weaver, James Joyce's patron and publisher.  Wendy is a frequent visitor of the Neilson Park Creative Arts Centre in Etobicoke, which Sherman's sister manages.  Wendy owns a copy of volume 6, No. 5 of the Egoist that was published in December 1919 by her great aunt. Wendy's copy of the Egoist includes a serialized excerpt from James Joyce's Ulysses which appeared two years prior to the novel's publication.   

Who is Groden?

Michael Groden was born in Buffalo in 1947 and graduated from Dartmouth College (B.A., 1969) and Princeton University (M.A., 1972, Ph.D., 1975). He moved to Canada in 1975 to teach at the University of Western Ontario and is now Distinguished University Professor in the Department of English there. He is the author of "Ulysses" in Progress (Princeton University Press, 1977) and "Ulysses" in Focus: Genetic, Textual, and Personal Views (Florida James Joyce Series, University Press of Florida, 2010; paperback, 2012), general editor of The James Joyce Archive (63 volumes, Garland Publishing, 1977-79), compiler of James Joyce's Manuscripts: An Index (Garland Publishing, 1980), and co-editor of The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994; 2nd edition, 2005; Chinese translation, 2011), Genetic Criticism: Texts and Avant-textes (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), Praharfeast: James Joyce in Prague (Litteraria Pragensia, 2012), and Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory: The Johns Hopkins Guide (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

Who is Sherman?

Michael Sherman is a Toronto-based communications strategist and lawyer. He's written speeches for CEO's and senior executives of some of Canada's largest corporations.  Michael is also principal of the communications consultancy firm: Trilogy Inc.

Why is the Egoist so special?

On January 22, 2013 Kate Taylor from the Globe and Mail wrote an article about Wendy's copy of the Egoist entitled "How much is a 92-year-old magazine with an historic excerpt worth?"

How much is a 92-year-old magazine with an historic excerpt worth?

Wendy's copy of the Egoist is the last edition printed -- one of just 400 copies. It's hard to say what it would fetch in an auction.  A first edition copy of Ulysses could easily sell for over $100,000, but since this is a magazine, it would likely sell for far less. Still, as it is the last edition and its originality can be easily authenticated, it is likely of significant value.

What else is in the Egoist magazine?

The magazine also includes one of T.S. Eliot's most famous articles: "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and a poem from William Carlos Williams called "Chicago."

Recite the William Carlos Williams poem: "Chicago":

IF you will come away with me into another state
we can be quiet together.
But here the sun coming up
out of the nothing beyond the lake is
too low in the sky,
there is too great a pushing against him,
too much of sumac buds, pink
in the head
with the clear gum upon them,
too many opening hearts of
lilac leaves, too many, too many swollen,
limp poplar tassels on the
bare branches!
It is too strong in the air. I have no rest against this
The pounding of the hoofs on the
raw sods
stays with me half through the night.
I awake smiling but tired.

To whom will Wendy be donating her copy of the Egoist? 

Wendy decided she would donate the Egoist magazine to the University of Toronto, thereby keeping the magazine in Canada's largest city where it can be seen by the most people while remaining in this country.  Groden had completed some research on Wendy's behalf and discovered that University of Toronto did not have a copy of an original edition of the Egoist, and he surmised that they would be very pleased to receive one.

Groden's mood?

He had not risked, he did not expect, he had not been disappointed, he was satisfied.

What satisfied him?

To have sustained no positive loss. To have brought a positive gain to others.

What did Wendy, Sherman and Groden see on the bar of the Starbucks?

Two grande cappuccinos for Wendy and Sherman and a grande Awake! tea for Groden.  Black. 

Who drank more quickly?

Sherman, having the advantage of several minutes at the initiation.

What else did Groden and Sherman agree to at the meeting?

With Wendy Weaver's enthusiastic encouragement, the two agreed to jointly teach a course on the joys of reading James Joyce's Ulysses.  The course will be held in Toronto and will take place in the Spring.  They expect the course to take place over an eight-week period, with one three-hour class each week at a venue to be announced, possibly at the University of Toronto or the Neilson Park Creative Centre.

How will Groden and Sherman market this course? 

Several ways, including via this blog.

How can prospective students show their interest in taking this course?

If you are interested in signing up for a course about the joys of reading James Joyce's Ulysses -- please send an email to  The course will be limited to about about 20 students.   At this stage there's no commitment, we only ask for expressions of interest.  If there are enough people showing interest, the course will go forward.

How much will this course cost? 

It's still a work in progress, but it will likely be at the going rate of a continuing education course.

Who was the first person to express an interest in taking this course? 


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