Top 10 Dirtiest Parts of James Joyce’s Ulysses
Are the “dirty” parts still enough to shock us after 100 years?
James Joyce’s Ulysses turns 100 tomorrow!
Although it is now considered a literary classic and is a common feature of those “100 books to read before you die” lists, Joyce’s 1922 novel was once considered too obscene to print. Joyce had already struggled to find a publisher for his much-cleaner book of short stories, Dubliners, for refusing to edit out a few well-placed curse words. By the time he began writing Ulysses, Joyce was fed up with the Victorian sensibilities of his contemporaries as the world entered a new age; the horrors of the First World War and mass death from the Spanish Flu were fresh wounds, and there was no longer, in Joyce’s eyes, any use quibbling over a swear word or body parts. Ulysses began with no holes barred — in episode one, a naked young man jumps into “the scrotumtightening sea”  — and from there only gets bolder.
Installments of Ulysses were published in two literary magazines: The Little Review and The Egoist. Only a few episodes appeared in the London-based magazine The Egoist in 1919 before British printers began refusing to typeset the novel in any form. The Little Review, a Chicago-based subscription-only Avant Garde magazine, serialized episodes one through thirteen (of eighteen) under the direction of lesbian editors Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap between 1918 and 1920. In 1920, a copy of the magazine fell into the lap of a New York lawyer’s young daughter, and the gig was up: an accusation of obscenity was brought to trial, and Ulysses was banned across the United States two years before the novel was even finished.
Kevin Birmingham has observed that it is one of the greatest ironies of Ulysses that “while it was banned to protect the delicate sensibilities of female readers, the book owes its existence to several women. It was inspired, in part, by one woman [Joyce’s wife, Nora], funded by another [Harriet Shaw Weaver], serialized by two more [Anderson and…