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Anniversaries: The Greatest Day in the History of Modern Literature? February 2, 1922

1 February 2012 10:39 PM, PST | | See recent CultureCatch news »

There is no such thing as the greatest anything. Greatness is subjective. But if, for the sake of argument, or fun, or obsession, or whatever, we choose to at least toy with the concept of greatest modern novel, James Joyce's Ulysses is considered by many to be the frontrunner. And were one to attempt the hopeless task of choosing the greatest book of modern poetry, Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus would be a strong contender.

Well, 90 years ago, on February 2, 1922, Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company published the first edition -- one thousand copies -- of Ulysses in Paris, France, and Rilke began writing Sonnets to Orpheus at the Château de Muzot in Switzerland. These works are linked by more than a date; both draw heavily on Greek myth/legend, and both were written by self-exiled authors.

Joyce -- whose birthday was February 2, and who had a »

- SteveHoltje

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