Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Bloomsday 2013: Buck Mulligan / Oliver Gogarty Edition

June 16th, 2013

Each June 16th, fans of James Joyce’s Ulysses celebrate “Bloomsday” in commemoration of the day on which the novel is set.  The annual fête (often marked by marathon readings) takes its name from the modernist classic’s central character, Leopold Bloom.

Though the novel belongs primarily to Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, or (in the last episode) Molly Bloom, it is another character who graces its famous first sentence: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”

Picture of the first page of the first episode of Ulysses (1922)

First page of the first episode of Ulysses by James Joyce. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922.
Call Number: Joyce Y116. Click image to enlarge.

Buck Mulligan, the flippant friend of Stephen Dedalus, was in part modeled after a friend from Joyce’s younger days, Oliver St. John Gogarty.  According to Joyce’s biographer, Richard Ellmann, the two young men met at the National Library of Ireland when Joyce was approximately twenty.  Both had medical aspirations and wrote poetry, though only Gogarty would go on to become a doctor.   While Gogarty admired Joyce’s writing, Joyce was less enthusiastic about his new friend’s, which he felt lacked weight and depth.  Joyce did, however, appreciate the satire and bawdiness of Gogarty’s more humorous poems, and he incorporated this into Mulligan’s verse in Ulysses.

Perhaps somewhat to his chagrin, Joyce found himself in Gogarty’s company in his first book appearance. Both men had poems titled “Two Songs” published in the annual anthology The Venture (1905). By this time, Joyce and Gogarty had already fallen out.  Ellmann notes that from the outset the friendship between the two would-be writers was also a rivalry. The character of Buck Mulligan in Ulysses is entertaining in his wit and pleasure-seeking, but he is also depicted as insensitive and disloyal.

Image of the cover of The Venture, 1904

Image of Two Songs by James Joyce, published in The Venture (1905)  Image of "Two Songs" by Oliver St. John Gogarty

Which young writer’s poems are more to your taste?: “Two Songs” by James Joyce and “Two Songs” by Oliver
St. John Gogarty from The Venture; An Annual of Art and Literature. London: John Baillie, 1905, p. 92, p. 138.
Call Number: Joyce Y243. Click images to enlarge and read poems.

Readers curious to investigate Gogarty through his own words will find plenty to peruse in Spencer’s collections. Gogarty published verse, plays, novels, and memoirs.   His  book, As I Was Going Down Sackville Street: A Phantasy in Fact (1937), offers depictions of writers he knew, including Joyce, Yeats, and George Moore, as well as the politicians with whom he associated, such as Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins (Gogarty performed the autopsies on both of these men and subsequently served as a Free State senator).

For those eager to delve into Gogarty’s more obscure writings, Spencer Research Library holds a copy of his play Blight the Tragedy of Dublin: An Exposition in 3 Acts  (1917), published under the pseudonym “Alpha and Omega.”  Even scarcer is Gogarty’s eight-page pamphlet “A Suggested Operation for Turbinal Catarrh” (1921), which provides insight into his work as a doctor.

Image of the medical pamphlet, "A Suggested Operation for Turbinal Catarrh" by Oliver St. John Gogarty

“A Suggested Operation for Turbinal Catarrh” by Oliver St. John Gogarty. Dublin: pr. for the author, 1921.
Call Number: C3118. Click image to enlarge.

Since this medical pamphlet is indeed rare (the only other copy recorded in WorldCat is housed at the National Library of Ireland) we’ve scanned it and posted it in its entirety here.  So this is what “Buck Mulligan” was up to when he wasn’t composing ribald rhymes!

Photograph of Oliver St. John Gogarty's signature from a 1924 letter to P. S. O'Hegarty.

Signature of Oliver St. John Gogarty, taken from a letter to P. S. O’Hegarty,
17 September, 1924. Call Number: MS P215:1a.

Searching for more Bloomsday fun?  For a list of Ulysses “firsts,” check out last year’s Bloomsday post.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

River City Rebels: Beat Poetry in Lawrence

May 17th, 2013

In this week’s post, Museum Studies graduate students Anna Paradis, Bre Wasinger, Karrah Whitlock, and Melody Yu reflect on the experience of curating and mounting the exhibition “River City Rebels: Beat Poetry in Lawrence,” which is currently on display in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s exhibition gallery.

On Thursday, May 9th, we celebrated the opening of our new exhibit with a reception. This event marked the completion of the semester-long project in which four museum studies graduate student collaborated with Elspeth Healey, Whitney Baker, and other KU Libraries staff to create an interactive exhibit that compellingly tells the story of Lawrence’s River City Reunion and introduces visitors to some of its more notable characters, including writers Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Diane Di Prima.

Image of students installing the exhibit Photograph of Museum Studies student Bre Wasinger in front of the case she developed on Allen Ginsberg.

Left: Museum Studies students Anna Paradis, Karrah Whitlock, and Melody Yu install materials in an
exhibition case for the River City Rebels exhibition. Right: Museum Studies student Bre Wasinger
in front of the case she developed on Allen Ginsberg. Click images to enlarge.

Student curator Bre Wasinger remarked she is particularly proud of the “interactives” (or interactive features of the exhibition) – “the listening lounge and poetry wall bring an air of creative sharing and activity to the space that emulates the creative process so central to the Beat community. I hope that people who experience this exhibit find themselves feeling more connected to and curious about Lawrence’s past. Knowing that these rebellious writers were so drawn to Lawrence (a town historically known for its own rebellious attitude) makes me proud to be here, and I hope we can impart this feeling onto others who visit the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.” Fellow students, Anna Paradis, Karrah Whitlock and Melody Yu, learned a lot about the individual poets and the town, as well as the many processes central to planning and executing exhibits through their MUSE 703: Introduction to Exhibits course taught by Bruce Scherting, the Exhibits Director at the Biodiversity Institute.

Photograph of exhbiition visitor at the magnetic poetry wall. Photograph of visitors at the River City Rebels exhibition opening

Left: Exhibition visitor at the Beat-themed magnetic poetry wall.
Right: Visitors at the River City Rebels exhibition opening. Click images to enlarge.

River City Rebels showcases the diverse and interesting holdings at Spencer Research Library for Beat poetry. Karrah Whitlock described the challenges the group experienced when choosing objects for the exhibition, as there were so many unique and visually interesting pieces. Many non-traditional items such as t-shirts, event flyers, handwritten journals, and personal photographs are featured in the collections. It was also important to the student curators to illustrate the strong link of several of the iconic Beat figures to Lawrence. At the exhibit opening several local Lawrencians had personal stories of interactions and experiences with William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, as well as memories of the River City Reunionwhich took place in Lawrence in 1987.

Exhibition case featuring materials from the 1987 River City Reunion in Lawrence, KS. Exhibition case featuring William S. Burroughs materials

Left: Exhibition case featuring materials from the 1987 River City Reunion in Lawrence, KS.
Right: Exhibition case featuring William S. Burroughs materials. Click images to enlarge.

This was a true team effort and the student curators are indebted to librarian Elspeth Healey and KU Libraries Conservator Whitney Baker. Both of these staffers worked closely with the exhibit team and assisted in so many ways. The experience has strengthened our knowledge as well as our real-world abilities to create and share an enriching experience – none of which would have been possible without the support of each other and our collaborators.

Photograph of River City Rebels student curators

Graduate student curators (left to right) Karrah Whitlock, Anna Paradis, Bre Wasinger, and Melody Yu
in front of the River City Rebels: Beat Poetry in Lawrence exhibition title wall

It should also be noted that there are two other student-curated exhibits currently taking place through the museum studies program: Continued Dedication, a special exhibit honoring Senator Dole’s service at the Dole Institute, and Occasional Mayhem: Exploring Crime and Punishment in Lawrence at the Watkins Museum (which coincidentally also features William Burroughs).

Anna Paradis, Bre Wasinger, Karrah Whitlock, and Melody Yu,
Museum Studies graduate students in MUSE 703: Introductions to Exhibits (Instructor: Bruce Scherting)

Bloomsday 2012

June 15th, 2012

Happy Bloomsday! As fans of James Joyce’s experimental novel will know, Ulysses is set on June 16, 1904. Accordingly, the 16th of June has become an annual occasion for readers around the globe to celebrate Joyce and commemorate (often with marathon public readings) Leopold Bloom’s fictional wanderings through Dublin.

In honor of Bloomsday 2012, we’ve posted a few Ulysses-related “firsts” from the Library’s James F. Spoerri Collection of James Joyce (one of our three major Irish Collections). It consists of over 900 volumes by and about Joyce, including first editions of all of the writer’s works with the exception of five minor items.

 

First Printing of an Episode from Ulysses

First episode of Ulysses in The Little Review (March 1918)

The Little Review. Vol. IV (misprinted as Vol. V), no. 11 (March 1918).
Call number: Joyce Y166. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Episodes from Ulysses first appeared serially in The Little Review, an American “little magazine” then based in New York. Twenty-three installments–covering 13 episodes as well as the beginning of episode 14–came out between March 1918 and December 1920. Though experimental literary circles fêted the work, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was less impressed. It brought the serialization to a halt by initiating obscenity charges over the events depicted in the “Nausicaa” episode.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

June 7th, 2012

On Tuesday, legendary writer Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91.  James Gunn,  writer, scholar, and founder of KU’s Center for the Study of Science Fiction, has memorialized Bradbury as being “[…] a bridge between the two cultures – not [C. P.] Snow’s science and literature but science fiction and literature.”  KU Libraries holds close to one hundred editions Bradbury’s work, including thirty-five volumes housed the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. We are also fortunate enough to hold a smattering of letters by Bradbury in several of our science fiction collections, including in the papers of editor and publisher Donald A. Wollheim, writer and critic P. Schuyler Miller, and writer Theodore Sturgeon.

Ray Bradbury’s letters to Ted Sturgeon are a particular delight: playful, comic, and frank, with plenty of talk of writing and sex.  He opens one missive with the salutation, “Dear Word-That-Rhymes-With-Virgin.”  Indeed that letter, written in April of 1947, captures Bradbury at a particularly significant moment in his career.   His first book, Dark Carnival (1947), was just about to be published, but Bradbury was too caught up in the process of proofing to boast.  “It’s a swell book,” he writes to Sturgeon, “but, Christ, the ennui, the vertigo, the inertia that overcomes one after hours of reading stuff you don’t want to read anymore.”

Indeed, as the letter shows, Bradbury navigated his early successes with a good deal of self-effacing wit.  When Sturgeon congratulated him on the literary coup of publishing a story, “The Man Upstairs,” in the March 1947 issue of Harper’s, Bradbury joked about his new-found ego: “Since my sale to Harper’s I’m not speaking to anybody.  Especially my grocer, my cleaner, my clothier, my radio man; to all of whom I owe money […].”  Now, sixty-five years later, it’s hard to imagine that Bradbury’s place in the annals of American storytelling was ever anything but assured.

To celebrate this influential author’s  life and writings, we share below three covers from Bradbury volumes in the Spencer Library’s collections (click images to enlarge).  Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

 Cover of first Book Club editio of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (1950)Cover of the first edition of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated ManCover of Ray Bradbury's I sing the Body Electric, 1969

Clockwise: The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.  Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1950 (Book Club Edition). ASF C194; The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1951 (First Edition).  ASF C65; I Sing the Body Electric, by Ray Bradbury. New York: Knopf, 1969 (First Edition). ASF C790.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian