The Big Blue Book

James Joyce Ulysses, in the first Dutch translation by John Vandenbergh, published 1969, hardcover, in cassette, together with Aantekeningen bij James Joyce’s Ulysses by the same John Vandenbergh. This is the edition that I first encountered Joyce in, around 1980 — maybe even earlier –, at the house of my grandparents, where my uncle H., (who was then about 20 years old) showed me the big blue book, telling me this was sort of a 20th century Odyssee, set in Dublin. I was intrigued of course. Became even more intrigued after seeing a page from Finnegans Wake in the Spectrum Encyclopedie.

I read Ulysses for the first time in this Dutch translation (a few years later). (I remember at that time any book translated by either John Vandenbergh or Gerardine Franken was a recommendation, like for instance Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom, of which, I remember, I did not understand a word, but finished reading to the last page nonetheless).

‘Statig kwam de vlezige Buck Mulligan van het trapgat, in de handen een bekken vol schuim waarop kruiselings een spiegel en een scheermes.’

This afternoon I came across a copy of just this book at a second hand bookstore. (For the non-Dutch, this translation is not available anymore, since the Paul Claes & Mon Nys translation came on the market). Complete, in cassette, perfect condition. I bought it. (37,50). It even has the smell of the library books through which I first encountered literature. It’s as if I’ve always had a copy of this book.

en,reading matter | April 27, 2006 | 20:13 | Comments Off on The Big Blue Book |


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