As Open Culture explains, this rare 1924 recording of Joyce reading from the Aeolus episode of the novel was arranged and financed by his friend and publisher Sylvia Beach, who brought him by taxi to the HMV (His Master’s Voice) gramophone studio in the Paris suburb of Billancourt. She writes in her memoir, Shakespeare & Company:
Joyce had chosen the speech in the Aeolus episode, the only passage that could be lifted out of Ulysses, he said, and the only one that was “declamatory” and therefore suitable for recital. He had made up his mind, he told me, that this would be his only reading from Ulysses.
I have an idea that it was not for declamatory reasons alone that he chose this passage from Aeolus. I believe that it expressed something he wanted said and preserved in his own voice. As it rings out–”he lifted his voice above it boldly”–it is more, one feels, than mere oratory.
Pair with these rare 1935 illustrations for Ulysses by none other than Henri Matisse.
Admiral Leo. An unidentified spacecraft is closing in on us.
On screen Commander Capricorn. Magnify.
OH NO!!! It’s Carl Sagan and his Spaceship of the Imagination!!!!
Astrology… Your future looks…………. Gloomy.
Quickly Major Pisces! Fire the…
Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you.” The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.
The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.”