Or, why the New Yorker remains the coolest magazine in the known world. From EmDashes:
Q. Is it true that at some point in the seventies, Goings On About Town used the listings for The Fantasticks to serialize James Joyce’s Ulysses?
Jon writes: Yes. The New Yorker began serializing Ulysses in the November 3, 1968 listing for The Fantasticks […]. That issue quoted the copyright information from the third printing of the novel (London, Egoist Press). The book’s opening words — “Stately plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed” — appeared in the Dec. 21, 1968, issue. The serialization lasted almost three years, ending in November of 1971, and encompassed the entirety of the book’s first chapter. By the end, Ulysses had spread to the listings for other long-running musicals such as Hello, Dolly!, and Fiddler on the Roof. For about six months prior to serializing Joyce’s novel, the magazine had filled the Fantasticks listing with geometry (“The sum of the squares of the two other sides”), grammar (“‘I’ before ‘e,’ but not after ‘c'”), instructions for doing your taxes (“If payments [line 21] are less than tax [line 16], enter Balance Due”), and other nonsense.
In 1970, New Yorker editor Gardner Botsford explained to Time magazine that he began the serialization of Ulysses because he got bored writing the same straight capsule reviews week after week. Asked about reader response to the serialization, Botsford observed, “Many are delighted they can identify the excerpts, but others think we are trying to communicate with the Russian herring fleet in code.”
It’s true; thanks to the Complete New Yorker, we have a screenshot from the 12/21/68 issue:
Click thru for the original 2-page spread; there’s a lovely surprise on the 2nd page.