• Email
  • Print

More on the New ‘Ulysses’

In response to:

The Scandal of 'Ulysses' from the June 30, 1988 issue

To the Editors:

As a Joyce scholar who has been one of the targets in John Kidd’s attack on Hans Walter Gabler’s edition of Ulysses, I recently sent The New York Review a letter that questioned Kidd’s tactics and motives and doubted the objectivity of the committee headed by Thomas Tanselle that Jason Epstein of Random House established to investigate his charges. The Review rejected the letter on the grounds that considerable space had already been devoted to responses to Kidd and that he had recently addressed issues I raised. The editors said that they would consider a new letter of no more than five hundred words.

Neither explanation for the rejection seems justified. For one thing, while the editors were telling me that there was no space (and were also rejecting letters by Wolfhard Steppe and Michael Patrick Gillespie that offered new responses to Kidd), they were giving Kidd even more space for his repetitive responses than they gave to all his critics combined. Second, even if Kidd took up some of my questions, his latest explanations do nothing to clarify matters; rather, they seem to me to increase the relevance of and the need for my original questions.

For example, in criticizing Gabler for his spelling of the name Connolly Norman, Kidd based his objections on the spelling of the historical Norman’s name as “Conolly” and listed seven references in Thom’s Dictionary as evidence (NYR, June 30, 1988, p. 33). In response, John O’Hanlon charged that, before locating the name with one “n” in Thom‘s, Kidd, like Joyce, must have found it spelled there with two “n”s, but that Kidd nowhere indicates that Thom‘s twice gives the latter spelling (NYR, September 29, p. 80). Kidd answered that the name was revised from “Connolly” (the manuscript reading) to “Conolly” on the typescript, a revision that, even though no typescript survives, he says was made only by Joyce (same issue, p. 81). Challenged to show how he gathered his evidence and why he failed to mention the references in Thom’s that conform to Gabler’s spelling, Kidd shifted to the different issue of whether the Rosenbach manuscript or the later typescript and proofs should serve as the authority for textual readings. He has evaded O’Hanlon’s question and has answered only by shifting ground.

Because sleight of hand of this kind has typified Kidd’s procedures in his attack on Gabler’s edition, and because as a result of his charges Random House has set up a committee to advise it about continuing to publish the Gabler edition, I felt that it was, and still is, necessary to discuss Kidd’s tactics and motives and the objectivity of the advisory committee.

A condensed version of the letter rejected by the Review appeared in the October 7–13 issue of the Times Literary Supplement. I urge readers who find the arguments in that letter compelling to follow the suggestion in it and write to Thomas Tanselle and Jason Epstein.

Michael Groden

University of Western Ontario

London, Ontario, Canada

John Kidd replies:

When Hugh Kenner and A. Walton Litz wrote to protest The New York Review‘s refusal to print a long letter from Michael Groden, they claimed that he had refuted “many of Kidd’s allegations.” Eventually Mr. Groden, who is named on the title page of the edition he defends, found space in the Times Literary Supplement. In the three versions of the letter seen by me, of which 2,500 words are now in print, Mr. Groden mentions only a single textual crux, the name of Dublin physician Conolly Norman, which is historically correct in all editions of Ulysses except Hans Gabler’s. I had hoped my brief reply in the TLS of October 21–27 would be sufficient.

If Messrs. Kenner, Litz, and Groden believe that Ulysses: The Corrected Text can be rescued by insisting on Gabler’s right to misspell Conolly Norman, then the Joyce Industry is in desperate need of a shake-up. Let’s recall that Gabler was the first to turn Harry Thrift into “Shrift” and Captain Buller into “Culler.”

My letter in the September 29 issue of The New York Review added two more names to the list of those Gabler did not check against 1904 documents: the bicycle racers Greene and Adderley, at the end of “Wandering Rocks,” both had silent e‘s dropped by Joyce’s amanuensis Frank Budgen. On the same page that Gabler overruled Budgen’s spelling of Lansdowne road, presumably to be historical, Greene and Adderley were not emended. Gabler is also willing to change spellings in Joyce’s own hand, such as adding the needed h in the name of the historian Lockhart in the catalog of Leopold Bloom’s library. Some editors prefer not to overrule an author’s own spellings, while Gabler is an eager emender. Yet many of the historical anomalies in Ulysses: The Corrected Text (whether they be created by Joyce or by Gabler misreading Joyce) are the residue of editorial ignorance about Dublin.

In my copy of the 1904 Thom’s Directory, acquired from the collection of Charles Kellogg, father of Joycean Robert Kellogg, I had indeed noticed that in two places Thom’s made the typical error of doubling Conolly into Connolly, just as Conor Cruise O’Brien’s name at times appears with two n‘s. Unlike the Elizabethans, Dubliners of this century tend to stick with a single spelling of personal names, although slips will inevitably occur (such as the c dropped from Schäfer in my previous letter). Joyce’s own birth certificate gives his middle name as Augusta, although our author emphatically styled himself James Augustine. To show that Gabler should have done more research, I thought it enough to cite documents with the accurate spellings, to the exclusion of simple typos such as Connor for Conor, Connolly for Conolly. A properly annotated edition should of course include notice of all the relevant spellings.

To demonstrate that Gabler was wrong about Conolly we need not have quoted Thom’s Directory at all. The guide is not in his 1984 bibliography, is not cited in any textual note of Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition, and if Gabler was aware of its contents, it was at secondhand or third. Let me instead quote a book cited in Gabler’s 1984 notes (page 1748, but expunged in later printings), if only to show that he did not study its relevant pages. J.B. Lyons, himself a Dublin physician and the author of James Joyce and Medicine (1974), went to considerable trouble to identify the doctors mentioned in Ulysses, and to alert us to inaccuracies (or Joycean fictions) about them. For example, on page 145:

Dr. Conolly Norman, F.R.C.P.I. (b. 12 March 1853 son of the Rev. Hugh Norman of Newtown Cunningham, Co. Donegal), a distinguished psychiatrist, was also a collector of books, engravings and pewter. He was subject to angina pectoris which he mistakenly attributed to beri beri. He died suddenly on 23 February 1908.

Had I cited this passage and not the ones from Thom’s Dictionary (which allowed me a joke about the gynecologist Dr. Kidd), Mr. Groden would still charge me with suppressing evidence because the Lyons index (and only the index) doubles the n in Conolly.

Which goes to show how common the slip is. Joyce himself made it when copying out the Rosenbach Manuscript from his drafts. He sent the manuscript from Locarno to his American friend Claud Sykes in Zurich. Then he bombarded Sykes with changes by postcard and letter, some of which are now lost. When he got the three typed copies, he made further changes, sent off two copies to Pound and retained one. All these typescripts are lost, but we have The Little Review that was set from one, the proofs of The Egoist from another, and the French proofs for the book from the typed copy Joyce held back. All three of the descendants of the typescripts have Conolly with one n even though Joyce had earlier mistakenly written the word with two.

In the Gabler “synopsis” or “genetic text” for this page of the Telemachus episode, there is no record that The Little Review, The Egoist, and the 1922 Ulysses all have Conolly spelled with one n. Nor is there a textual note at the back of the edition explaining that the man’s real name was being rejected in favor of the spelling in the Rosenbach Manuscript. Instead, in the arcane symbols in the list of printed variants is the curt dismissal of Conolly as “(tB)”. This symbol means that the rejected variant originated in a (lost) typescript. In his letter Mr. Groden assails my inference that Joyce revised his typescripts to put right the spelling, yet it is Gabler who weirdly attributes the change to the typist Claud Sykes. That an American originated the scarce Irish spelling, and not the Dublin-born author, is a far-fetched conjecture indeed.

Mr. Groden calls my letters “repetitive,” but one might better call them cumulative. In the September 29 issue of The New York Review I added two entries, Greene and Adderley, to the list of misnamed Dubliners unnoticed by Gabler. By turning five pages past Conolly Norman’s short bio in James Joyce and Medicine, one learns that the ophthalmologist Louis Werner was mistakenly called “Lewis” by the copyist Budgen, another slip by a Joycean helper unwittingly adopted by Gabler. The list of oversights will continue to grow. These in turn will spawn new attacks on the “objectivity” of the critics, their “motives and tactics,” and whatnot. Meanwhile readers who want offprints of my work on editing Ulysses may now contact me at the James Joyce Research Center, recently set up by Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.

  • Email
  • Print