An Post has unveiled two new stamps to celebrate the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s celebrated book Ulysses.
Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential pieces of modernist literature, Ulysses was initially published as a series of stories in an American journal and was first published as a complete novel on 2 February 1922 – James Joyce’s 40th birthday. The book chronicles a single day (16 June 1904 – now celebrated as Bloomsday) in the lives of Stephen Dedalus along with husband-and-wife Leopold and Molly Bloom as they meander through the streets and suburbs of Dublin.
The Ulysses 100 stamps from An Post were designed by Amsterdam-based Irish designers, The Stone Twins. The stamp design is intentionally unorthodox, challenging, and unexpected, as well as modernist – exactly what you would expect from Ulysses.
Inspired by James Joyce’s use of the ‘Gilbert Schema’ within Ulysses, the two-stamp design consists of a total of 18 sections, which signify the number of chapters in the book. The stamp design overlays the colours and structure defined in Joyce’s ‘Gilbert Schema’, with photographs captured by renowned photographer JJ Clarke, a doctor from Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan who took vivid images of daily life in Dublin when he was a medical student there between 1897 and 1904. As Ulysses is particularly famous for challenging the conventions of language, the inverted type used in the stamp design was chosen to reflect Joyce’s experimental use of language.
An Post expects strong interest in the Ulysses 100 stamps at home and abroad from collectors, the Joycean community, and those with an interest in literature. The specially designed First Day Cover, a souvenir envelope, features a JJ Clarke photograph of 14-18 Ormond Quay Lower and Swifts Row, taken from the South Quays and featuring the River Liffey. The First Day Cover also features both of the Ulysses 100 stamps and a special cancellation mark.
The Ulysses 100 stamps and a special First Day Cover commemorative envelope are available at selected post offices nationwide and online at www.anpost.com/shop
An Post CEO, David McRedmond said: “The claims for Ulysses as the greatest novel of the 20th Century, and the first great modern novel, remain vibrant. Its 100th anniversary shows something else: that Ulysses is as relevant now as a work of art as when it was written. These stamps reflect the unique mix of modernism and classicism that define the novel.”
Internationally renowned Joycean expert, Senator David Norris said: “Frozen in time the images on these stamps illustrate remarkably the period of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1904. It is tempting to think that in the world of fiction these stamps might have adorned Bloom’s letter to Martha Clifford. I congratulate An Post on their production to mark the centenary of the publication of Ulysses.”