James Joyce Reads, You Listen!

Check out these mp3s of James Joyce reading selections from his novels (that word, “novel,” it doesn’t seem right…) Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Lovely lilting rhythm. Mostly, it’s just cool to hear his voice. From the original liner notes by Sylvia Beach to the 1924 album (courtesy The Modern World):

In 1924 I went to the office of His Master’s Voice in Paris to ask them if they would record a reading by James Joyce from ULYSSES. But they would agree only if it were done at my expense. The record would not have their label on it, nor would it be listed in their catalogue. I accepted the terms: thirty copies of the recording to be paid for on delivery.

Joyce himself was anxious to have this recording made. He had made up his mind, he told me, that this would be his only reading from ULYSSES. Recording was done in a rather primitive manner in those days. All the same, I think the ULYSSES recording is a wonderful performance. I never hear it without being deeply moved.

James Joyce reads from Finnegans Wake (part I)

James Joyce reads from Finnegans Wake (part II)

Jams Joyce reads from Ulysses (from the “Aeolus” episode)

Or, if you prefer, check out Jim Norton reading the first few pages of Finnegans Wake (from the audio book version, which who knows if listening to counts as reading the thing–but it’s pretty cool to hear an adult man make these noises and think that such a thing might be Great Literature).

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