Dora Marsden and James Joyce, as cartoons!

Uncategorized / Thursday, April 15th, 2021

The history of the impacts of egoism or egoists on the larger culture hasn’t been written, but we can say for certain many egoists have died already forgotten. Many were indigent, or insane, or just otherwise malcontents who voluntarily withdrew into a world of their own.

But we do know that there have been individuals who identified with egoism that have made an impact on the larger culture he existed in, and often fought against.

Dora Marsden can certainly be counted as an egoist who was forgotten by her death, after having spent her last 30 years in a mental institution. But before that, her journals had an oversized impact as part of the Modernist movement. In the graphic biography James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner, we see the author Alfonso Zapico create a scene:

In 1911, Dora founded The Freewoman (1911 – 1912), a periodical described by one forgotten nobody as “a disgusting publication… indecent, immoral and filthy.” Financial troubles led to a re-launch as The New Freewoman (1914). And an ever more keen search for liberty led to a re-launch as The Egoist (1914 – 1919).

It was in The Egoist: An Individualist Review that the work of a number of notable writers was published, in-part under the guidance of Ezra Pound. Included are T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Charlotte Mew, William Carlos Williams, and, as depicted above, James Joyce’s first novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Joyce’s story appeared in The Egoist in twenty-five installments from 2 February 1914 to 1 September 1915. There was difficulty finding a British publisher for the finished novel, so Pound arranged for its publication by an American publishing house, B. W. Huebsch, which issued it on 29 December 1916. The Egoist Press republished it in the United Kingdom on 12 February 1917 and Jonathan Cape took over its publication in 1924. Of interest is that Jonathan Cape was also the publisher of The Ego and His Own in Britain at the time.



James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner? A Graphic Biography is available from .

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