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Joyce Loses Legal Battle
October 1, 2009 - 10:49am


As Stanford University reported a couple of days ago and Inside Higher Ed noted, the estate of James Joyce, headed up by James Joyce’s grandson, Stephen James Joyce, has lost a lawsuit with English professor Carol Loeb Shloss and must pay her legal fees and costs of nearly a quarter-million dollars.

This finding appears to end the almost two-decade battle with the estate by Shloss, and to represent relief for other Joyce scholars who’ve felt the estate to be unfair and unreasonable in the number of demands and limitations imposed on them. (An article in 2006 in The New Yorker describes this tension and offers a portrait of the artist’s grandson as gatekeeper: “Stephen is a handsome man of seventy-four, with a gray beard, sloping forehead, and deep-blue eyes—he looks the way Joyce might have looked if he had not smoked and drunk himself to death, at fifty-eight, in 1941.”)

Shloss, the author of Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake (2003), had been forced to remove supporting research from her revisionist book on James Joyce’s daughter, which led to mixed reviews. (Here’s a tart review from 2003, also in The New Yorker, which says, in part, “The less Shloss knows, the more she tells us.”)

In the intervening years since the original publication of the expurgated biography, Shloss has already won in suit the right to “domestic online publication of the supportive scholarship” and the right to republish the book in the U.S. with the missing material restored. Now she’ll be reimbursed for her expenses too, which will clearly make her lawyers—Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, Keker & Van Nest, and Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, as well as the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society's Fair Use Project—yes, rejoice.

All this wrangling over old-fashioned books may one day be a moot point anyway. “Everybody is trying to think about how books and information will best be put together in the 21st century,” says Judith Curr, publisher of Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint that will work with Vook, a multimedia company, to produce hybrid books in which "publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment."

“You can’t just be linear anymore with your text,” Curr says.


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