Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ Handwritten on Seven-Foot Wooden Poles

12.19.13 Andy Cush

Our friends at Nerdcore point to this work by Charlene Matthews who rewrote the entirety of Ulysses’s 265,000 words on a set of 38 seven-foot wooden poles, lending physicality to the immersive nature of the James Joyce masterpiece.

Stephen J. Gertz gets to the heart of it much more poetically than I can at Booktryst:

James Joyce completed his novel, Ulysses, on October 30, 1921. Ninety years later, on October 30, 2011, Charlene Matthews, the Los Angeles-based book artist and bookbinder recently the subject of a profile in Studios magazine, began work on an extraordinary edition of the book, based upon Sylvia Beach’s true first edition with all its typos included.

Two years later, on October 30, 2013, she completed it: the entire text of Ulysses – all of its approximately 265,000 words in eighteen episodes – transcribed by hand onto thirty-eight seven-foot tall, two-inch diameter poles: Ulysses as a landscape to physically move through; the novel as literary grove, Ulysses as trees of of life with language as fragrant, hallucinatory bark, and trunks reaching toward the sky.

Booktryst has an interview with Matthews about the piece as well. If she ever decides to sell the thing, you can put it right next to your enormous spellchecked print of Finnegan’s Wake.