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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Joyce archive bought for 8m
James Joyce
Ulysses has long been seen as a classic novel
Hundreds of manuscripts and notes penned by the novelist James Joyce have been bought by the National Library in Dublin for 8m.

The rare collection, believed to be the largest of its kind - includes unseen drafts of the classic book Ulysses.

The collection - totalling more than 500 pieces - was brought to Dublin from Paris by Ireland's Arts Minister Sile de Valera.

Prime Minister Bertie Aherne was at Dublin Airport to welcome the manuscripts to the country.

The documents were purchased from Alexis Leon, the son of Joyce's former aide, the late Paul Leon.

Mr Leon, the agent and friend of Joyce, rescued them during the German occupation of France in World War II.

James Joyce
Joyce fled from a Nazi-occupied France
Joyce had left the papers behind when he fled the Nazi invasion and his landlord later put them up for auction to cover rent that had gone unpaid.

It took 18 months of intense private negotiations between the library and Alexis Leon to secure their passage to Ireland, brokered by Sotheby's auction house.

The acquisition of papers was one of the biggest ever made by a national cultural institution in Ireland, with half the money being donated by Allied Irish Banks.

Proofs

"Obtaining this unique material, which has never before been seen by the public or by Joyce scholars, will be acknowledged as a monumental event in Ireland's literary and cultural history," said Ms de Valera.

"With this collection housed in the National Library of Ireland that institution - which Joyce himself knew well - will become a globally important and pre-eminent centre for the study of his work."

Among the collection are proofs and amended sections of Joyce's last book, Finnegan's Wake.

There are also notebooks from Joyce's period in Dublin before he wrote The Dubliners at the turn of the 20th Century.

In 2000, the National Library of Ireland acquired the manuscript of the Circe episode of Ulysses at auction.

It also holds the first copy of the first edition of Ulysses, presented in 1952 by Harriet Shaw Weaver, who was presented with the book by Joyce himself in 1922.

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