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Austria Hunting James Joyce for Espionage

Betreffend: Hochverräterische Umtriebe von österr. Čechen im Auslande [Concerning: Treasonous activities by Austrian Czechs living abroad]. Also known as: Album velezrádců, 1914–1918 [Album of traitors].

Prague: Präsidium der k. k. Polizeidirektion Prag, [1916 or 1917]. Large quarto (33 × 24 cm). Attractively bound in recent gray boards; [1], 198 leaves of text to rectos only. Pink rubber stamp “Vertraulich” (“Confidential”) to first leaf. Introductory text followed by German-language wanted briefs and photographs. Very good.

This alphabetical directory, with brief biographies and portraits, documents nearly 1400 persons accused or suspected of engaging in treasonous activities abroad against the Austro-Hungarian government and, in particular, the war effort. The suspects include Czech citizens living abroad – in Austria, Germany, France, Russia, North America and elsewhere, but also some foreigners who expressed sympathy for the Czech cause. Among the best known figures are the future president of the first Czechoslovak Republic, T. G. Masaryk, the writer Jaroslav Hašek (then based in Kiev), and the brothers Vojta and Edvard Beneš.

A one-line entry also mentions James Joyce, then still largely unknown in the region, who lived in Zurich during WWI. Joyce’s correspondence was already being monitored by Tyrolean censors, until an exculpatory report was made by Austrian military attache William von Einem in 1916. It is not known, however, whether von Einem’s report also voided the open arrest warrant for Joyce in the Austrian lands, based on this publication.

Joyce, who had lived in Pula and Trieste previously, moved to Switzerland during WWI, where he worked on Ulysses. He left Zurich for Trieste in 1919, settling in France the following year. Interestingly, Joyce’s move from Pula to Trieste was also related to Austrian counter-espionage measures: “after ‘an episode of Irredentist espionage’, all the foreigners in Pola were ordered to leave” (Gibson, James Joyce, p. 79). Gibson also points out that, although he “wrote a skit in doggerel on the Austro-Hungarian monarch,” Joyce in fact found Austro-Hungary quite to his liking: “he wished, he said, that more empires were like it” (ibid, p. 78).

In late 1919, Egon Erwin Kisch (1885–1948) published an expose on the present album in Prager Tagblatt, which demonstrated how hastily and often erroneously the Austrian authorities had compiled their wanted list. In many cases, gossip and rumors led to arrests, prison terms, and even a few executions. Other suspicious persons include the Russian writers Aleksandr Amfiteatrov and Ivan Beliaev, Georges Blondel, and the artist František Kupka. Also listed are many women, sometimes the wives of known “traitors,” sometimes accused of their own supposedly treasonous activities: Franziska Bujarek, Marie Cerveny, the dancer Gaby Deslys, Blazena Durich, Bozena Kacerovsky, and numerous others. The entries sometimes cite letters intercepted or speeches reported by foreign agents. Many of the suspects were members of the Czechoslovak Legions in France or Russia. The entries also feature an archival cipher, usually at the Prague Police Archive, including that for Joyce, who is here noted to be “politically suspect.”

KVK, OCLC show the copies at the Austrian and Czech National Libraries, Zürich, Tübingen, and Oxford; in the United States, it is only held at Hoover, Indiana, LOC, and Utah.

Book ID: P6257

Price: $1,950.00