Bloom's Blog 2022 - 6 ~ Who Decided the Final “YES” In Ulysses?
A friend of Joyce, Valery Larbaud, arranged a reading of extracts from Ulysses in December 1921, a few months before its publication. It was decided that extracts from the final episode, the famous Molly soliloquy, would be read in French and a young man, Jacques Benoîst-Méchant was selected to translate the various passages. The version of Penelope that was given to Benoîst-Méchant indicated the final line as “…and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will”. Benoîst-Méchant found it difficult to translate the final “I will” into French so that it would properly reflect the culmination of the might novel. As far as he was concerned “Je veux” just didn’t have a good enough ‘punch’ to it. So he added a final “oui” - “yes”.
Joyce protested when he saw the translation. Following several hours of discussion and arguing Joyce eventually agreed to Benoîst-Méchant’s “oui”, although it’s suggested that he already was contemplating using “yes” as the final word of Ulysses.