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  • James Joyce’s McCormack letter could exceed $8,000
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • appearauctionchapterdidistancegreetingshandshakeitalianjoycelettermccormackopportunityrrtenorwrites

James Joyce’s McCormack letter could exceed $8,000

A signed letter from Irish modernist author James Joyce to his friend, the tenor John McCormack, is set to appear in RR Auction’s September 13 memorabilia sale.

It’s dated December 18, 1920, soon after Joyce and his family arrived in Paris.  

James Joyce letter

Joyce writes to congratulate a musician friend on his performance 

Joyce writes to congratulate McCormack on a recent performance: “In the general confusion the other afternoon I had not an opportunity to tell you how delighted we were by your singing, especially the aria from Don Giovanni: I have lived in Italy practically ever since we last met but no Italian lyrical tenor that I know (Bonci possibly excepted) could do such a feat of breathing and phrasing—to say nothing of the beauty of tone in which, I am glad to see, Roscommon can leave the peninsula a fair distance behind.

“We are all going to hear you again next Tuesday and I am sure you will have another big success. Di nuovo tanti mirallegri ed una stretta di mano cordialissimo [Again many greetings and a cordial handshake].”

Joyce was in the midst of writing chapter 15 (Circe) of his sensational novel Ulysses when he composed this letter.

McCormack himself is mentioned in chapter 6 (Hades).

Joyce is regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language.

Handwritten letters are in high demand. In 2004, an erotic letter he sent to his wife Nora in 1909 realised a Joyce record £240,800 ($310,104).

This specimen is valued at more than $8,000.

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  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • appearauctionchapterdidistancegreetingshandshakeitalianjoycelettermccormackopportunityrrtenorwrites