The Gatekeeper: Joyce, Stephen James

D T Max asks whether James Joyce’s grandson, Stephen James Joyce, is suppressing scholarship in the guise of protecting his grandfather’s legacy:

Most prickly literary estates are interested in suppressing unflattering or intrusive information, but no one combines tolltaker, brand enforcer, and arbiter of taste as relentlessly as Stephen does, and certainly not in such a personal way. In 2003, Eloise Knowlton, a Joycean and a novelist, asked permission to publish a fictional version of “Sweets of Sin,” the risqué novel that Bloom picks up for his wife, Molly. (“Ulysses” offers only a glimpse of its contents.) Stephen wrote back, “Neither I nor the others who manage this Estate will touch your hare-brained scheme with a barge pole in any manner, shape or form.” When turning down a request for permission from an academic whose work was going to be published by Purdue, he said that he objected to the name for the university’s sports teams: the Boilermakers. (He considered it vulgar.) Michael Groden, a scholar at the University of Western Ontario, spent seven years creating a multimedia version of “Ulysses,” only to have Stephen block the project, in 2003, with a demand for a permissions fee of one and a half million dollars. (Before Stephen controlled the Joyce estate, such fees were nominal.)

One of the scholars who’s run afoul of Stephen James Joyce is Carol Schloss, who has written a biography of James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia. Lawrence Lessig is filing a case on her behalf that accuses the Joyce estate of “copyright misuse”.

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