Des Moines

Library Spotlight: Storiella as She is Syung

Now through early March, an edition of Storiella as She is Syung by James Joyce will be on display in the Salisbury House Library. This edition is a part of the Weeks family’s book and document collection, and is one of 175 copies published in 1937 by Corvinus Press and printed on handmade mulberry paper. The paper has oxidized over the years, creating small dark spots throughout the book. This edition is bound in a bright, almost neon, orange vellum and housed in a custom box of the same color.

James Joyce

James Joyce was born February 2nd, 1882 – making him exactly six months older than Edith Weeks – and this year marks both of their 140th birthdays. Joyce is a modernist writer known for his stream of consciousness style, with his most well-known work being Ulysses. Storiella, however, would eventually become Part 2 Chapter 2 of Finnegan’s Wake, which was originally published in sections over the course of 17 years under the overarching title Work in Progress. On the first page of this edition we a have lettrine – in this case a large, ornate letter “A” – designed by James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia Joyce.

A photo of Lucia Joyce dancing taken by Berenice Abbott

Lucia was an interesting woman in her own right. Born July 26th, 1907 she was an accomplished dancer in her younger years but gave up the art at the age of 22. She began to suffer from mental health issues in the 1930s, and her father took her to see famous psychiatrist Carl Jung. Soon after she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and she would be hospitalized for most of her life.

As for the Weeks family library, there are over 20 Joyce titles and letters – including original proofs, first editions, and copies inscribed in Joyce’s own hand.

If you are interested in visiting Salisbury House and seeing this edition of Storiella yourself, visit our website for up-to-date hours and further details. You can also learn more about the Salisbury House Library Collection by visiting Special Collections at the Grinnell College Libraries.

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