That dangerous book

One of the most important books in my life has been James Joyce’s Ulysses.

My relationship with the novel began in rather compromising fashion; I stole my first copy of it when I was 17. I still have that Penguin edition, although it is held together with sellotape. Ulysses has inhibited my own writing and yet, at the same time, continues to reveal the huge possibilities of the novel.

Rather fittingly, considering that criminal connection, I have at last got hold of a copy of Kevin Birmingham’s The Most Dangerous Book, which is the story of the novel’s battle to be published and then its years of censorship and being banned.

I borrowed the book from the London Library. This means I don’t need to jettison an existing book in the house.

I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ve read many studies of the novel from the point of view of structure and inspiration and sources and language. And more studies of Joyce himself. This promises a unique point of view: the story of the book’s life after publication.

I shall report back.