Ireland’s Central Bank Issues Commemorative Coin to Celebrate James Joyce’s Ulysses, Misquotes the Text
The bank inserted an extra word (“that”) into a sentence taken from Ulysses. Not the biggest error, but still.
"While the error is regretted," the bank said in a statement, "it should be noted that the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation."
Meantime, some Joyce scholars think its fun. Via the Guardian:
Mark Traynor, manager of the James Joyce Centre, which is dedicated to promoting the author’s life and work, called the slip-up “unfortunate”, but said there was “certainly a humorous side to it too (no ‘flip side of the coin’ pun intended)”.
"For one thing, Joyce was an author who embraced errors. As Stephen remarks in Ulysses, ‘A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery’," said Traynor. "So if there is any value in the little mistake by the minters it is that it has bred a new, unexpected narrative. What should have been a fairly mundane launch of a commemorative coin has suddenly reached a much wider audience than expected."
It also just goes to show, Traynor added, “that – even after the cessation of copyright on Joyce’s major works – you still can’t reproduce a couple of sentences without causing a bit of scandal”.
Image: Front and back of the Ulysses commemorative coin.
2012 is a special year for these Joyceans. The 71st since Joyce’s death, it marks the first — across the EU at any rate — that his work may be shared freely among them, without needing permission — for public readings, performances, or re-interpretations — from his estate. This is no small matter: since inheriting the estate in 1982, Joyce’s grandson Stephen Joyce has gained a reputation as the most controlling literary executor in history.
Copyright’s recent history is exclusively one of concessions granted to copyright holders — who are increasingly multinational corporations such as TimeWarner and EMI and wealthy estates — either extensions in the scope of copyright’s protection or the length of its term, or streamlined mechanisms for its enforcement.
The public are the losers in these deals, yet they have rarely been moved to join the chorus of academics and archivists and their persistent protest that we are moving ever further from the view of copyright established by the framers of the Constitution: a necessary, temporary, evil to promote the health of a knowledge base that is ultimately shared. Indeed, our journey towards a corporate vision of perpetual knowledge assets exploited for profit seems unstoppable.