“Damn His Impertinence. Bloody Crook”: Roth Publishes Joyce
Samuel Roth did in fact obtain permission to publish segments of Joyce’s “Work in Progress” in his Little Magazine Two Worlds (1925-26). Roth asserted that a now-missing letter from Ezra Pound, 3 July 1922, gave him permission to publish excerpts from Ulysses. But he did not get Joyce’s permission. What he did was not an act of piracy. There was no international copyright agreement to which the United States was a signatory. Roth’s after-the-fact offer of payment was rejected. Instead, Joyce and his supporters published an International Protest against Roth in February 1927. It, and false assertions by Sylvia Beach and Harriet Weaver, marked him as an infamous “pirate.” In fact, Joyce knew that he could not win any case involving violation of copyright. His goal in publicizing the affair as he did was to get Ulysses published in America in unexpurgated form.
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