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The Continuing Scandal of ‘Ulysses’: An Exchange

To the Editors:

As a member of the editorial team that oversaw the critical edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I feel it is my prerogative and duty to comment on the extraordinary article, “The Scandal of Ulysses,” by John Kidd that appeared in the June 30 issue of The New York Review of Books. In the first place, I should like to set the record straight on an important point: Kidd asserts that the edition was based on facsimiles; this is quite simply untrue. The first transcriptions were made from facsimiles (no other procedure would have been practicable) but these were later checked against the originals personally by Professor Gabler. He is equally wrong in saying that all of the transcriptions were made in Munich; those of the early drafts and of the Rosenbach Manuscript were in fact (perhaps appropriately!) made in Dublin.

Kidd has, admittedly, uncovered a small number of errors in the 1984 Ulysses (for which he should be thanked), but he has deliberately exaggerated the moment of these out of all sane proportion and has attached them to false (in some cases, knowingly false) allegations, misrepresentations, innuendoes and insults (for which he should be censured). Of the two most significant errors (the name-changes of Thrift and Buller), neither one has anything relevant to the relative merits of facsimiles/originals. Consulting my own notes, I find that the original transcription of Frank Budgen’s hand in the Rosenbach correctly rendered “Thrift.” The transcription in its entirety was then independently checked three times (twice from the facsimile and once from the original). How, then, did the error “Shrift” originate? I do not have access to the notes of the other members of the team, but I can hazard a guess: through a most unusual combination of events at the stage of investigating the typescript. Joyce’s typist had first read “Shrift” and had then overprinted the “S” with “T” (JJA13–30). A query, “S or T?” was possibly made, and this checked back against the Rosenbach. Budgen’s “T” in “Thrift” does look like an “S,” but then he used that particular form regularly. Unfortunately, right next to “Thrift” on the manuscript page is “T.M. Patey”; this capital “T” is a more run-of-the-mill “T” and, indeed, is unmistakably a “T”. A wrong choice was made, and for one reason or another, this was not referred back to the original readers of the Rosenbach, thus effectively cancelling the checkings. What does this prove?: that all procedures, no matter how carefully contrived, are susceptible to human error. The case of Buller/Culler is simpler. Contrary to Kidd’s assertion, it is quite clear from the facsimile that Joyce wrote “Buller” and that the printer’s marking is an “e”; anyone mistaking that “e” for a “C” would be equally likely to do so from the original as from the facsimile and, in fact, apparently did.

In preparing the critical edition of Ulysses, editor Gabler had approximately 1,000,000 (one million) words to “locate, collate and relate”; the other members of the team had smaller, but nonetheless substantial, problems. The final text was constructed, word by word, from the extant manuscripts and by inference from the lost manuscripts. Each individual word and punctuation mark had to be assessed, not merely to see that it corresponded “diplomatically” to the holograph (where it existed) but also to inquire whether there might be bibliographical or textual/critical reasons why it should be emended. Only after all this work was completed was the Historical Collation (the list of 5000 “corrections”) generated automatically by a computer program. In principle, therefore, the “corrections” are irrelevant to the edition. At no time was their number or nature a consideration in the editing. Yet Kidd outrageously, preposterously, and, frankly, quite slanderously suggests that the Society of Authors (representing the Estate of James Joyce) somehow conspired in ensuring that the Historical Collation would yield the kind of result that it did in order to support a new copyright.

It is easier to destroy (or, to try to destroy) than it is to create. Kidd’s wearisome, four-year-long campaign against the edition has concentrated upon the five thousand “corrections.” With regard to the case of Thrift/Shrift, Kidd inquires: Did it occur to anyone to check whether Thrift was a real person before changing him to Shrift? But, according to the procedures and philosophy of the editing, it was assumed (honestly, if mistakenly) that no change had taken place. Such extra-textual investigations were only carried out in those cases where emendations to the Joyce holograph were felt to be called for. If Shrift had been investigated, then logically so should Messrs. Green, Patey, Scaife, Jeffs, Morphy, Stevenson, Adderly, and Huggard, not to mention the thousands of other names in Ulysses. Did Kidd do this? I very much doubt it. If the editors had done so (if indeed it could have been done, bearing in mind the burning of the records during the Irish Civil War), what would have been the result of the mammoth historical research? Textual-critically, it would have amounted to inadmissable evidence according to the methodology of the edition.

The third and last of Kidd’s name changes, Conolly/Connolly, is instructive in illustrating his (lack of) scholarly integrity and the ethics of his presentation. When I read his analysis, I felt it mighty odd that he should have noted the spelling “Conolly” in seven places (most of them very obscure) in Thom’s Dublin Directory. Referring to my own copy, I discovered precisely why this was so. In the most obvious place where I, or Kidd, or Joyce, would look up Mr. Norman—the alphabetical list of the “Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Traders” at the back of the book (the section that includes John Joyce and that, indeed, Kidd looked up for “Buller”)—his name is printed as “Connolly Norman”; i.e. the identical form that Joyce wrote down in the Rosenbach Manuscript. Further, the list includes only one cross-reference (to his home address on the North Circular Road convenient to the Richmond) and, notably, here also his name is spelled “Connolly.” Why did Kidd not see fit to include this relevant information in his article? I submit, because it is his unscholarly practice to suppress evidence not supportive of his claims.

Kidd cites his article “Gaelic in the New Ulysses” in the Irish Literary Supplement (Fall, 1985) and repeats his claim that in the critical edition the “Irish Gaelic is botched.” Apart from the oblique reference—the switch from “Gaelic” to “Irish Gaelic” (a definite improvement!)—he does not mention that his article was resoundingly refuted in detail by Danis Rose in the Spring, 1986, issue of the same journal in a paper entitled “Irish and/or Gaelic in the New Ulysses: a reply to John Kidd.” Rose uncovered more editorial blunders in Kidd’s short article than Kidd had published concerning the whole Ulysses edition. Furthermore, Rose acknowledged the minority of three or four instances where Kidd’s analysis of the Irish genuinely called for new footnotes or emendations to the presentation in the critical edition. No such return of acknowledgement and scholarly dialogue is forthcoming from Kidd.

On the subject of unexamined archives, Kidd writes:

I turned up a postcard from Joyce to the typist Claud Sykes with textual alterations; its existence was denied in The New York Times, April 29, 1985, page B2. Robert Bertholf, the curator of rare books at SUNY-Buffalo, produced the card.

The full story of this postcard is quite otherwise and suggests an entirely new meaning for the words “I turned up.” Not the card itself, but a garbled version of what it contained was sprung on Gabler while in New York. From textual/critical considerations, Gabler did not believe that such a card could exist. His initial inquiries to SUNY-Buffalo elicited a negative response. To continue in Gabler’s words I include here an open letter dated 21 May, 1985:

For the Information of Whom It May Concern

From a personal letter to Dr. John Kidd, Charlottesville (Va.):

The business, such as you have chosen to publicize it, about the postcard from Joyce to Sykes from Locarno dated 19.XII.17 is entirely a red herring. The postcard itself has now surfaced. It contains two instructions which Sykes carried out and which consequently are followed by all texts, including that of the critical edition. (Regardless of whether or not the card had in fact been preserved, its onetime existence was inferrable, and had of course been tacitly assumed by us, from the inscription of one of the changes in Sykes’ hand in the Rosenbach MS.)

The card does not instruct Sykes to change an “on” to an “over.” Jack Dalton considered the possibility of making this change editorially on the grounds that, in the context quoted on the postcard in order to place one of the explicit instructions, an “on” of the Rosenbach MS is given as “over.” Dalton collated all printed texts from the first edition onwards as well as the Rosenbach MS and found them all to agree in “on.” He reached the decision not to change partly on the basis of this agreement, but more importantly by evaluating all contextual links, both those in the ‘passage in question and those of potential parallel passages in the first two chapters of Ulysses.

The entire story of Dalton’s assembling and evaluating the evidence to reach his verdict: “no S1” (i.e., “do not change to ‘over,’ but follow the first edition reading”) is encoded on one of his index cards. This index card was the source of your information. You did not know and did not understand Dalton’s conventions of encoding information and decisions on his cards. Now did you seek out the Buffalo postcard to make sure you understood the issue.

The Dalton cards—his memoranda to himself about his research findings, featuring much private code—were seen by you in Munich last January, when I offered you the opportunity to take a look at them. Much of the time I sat in my office next door and would have been available at any time to discuss queries. (While you had merely a couple of hasty afternoons with the cards, my familiarity with them was formed over a long time of using them.) You preferred to appropriate clandestinely a fragmentary piece of information and, irresponsibly mistaking your understanding of it for the truth of the matter, never bothered to seek verification. Thus compounding professional ineptitude with an act of personal double-dealing you rushed before the public to disparage my scholarly integrity. This I deeply resent. I expect you to seek, and I hope you will find ways to redress the insult and injury.


Far from seeking ways to redress, Kidd has repeated and compounded the insult and the injury. One can but marvel (and even perhaps perversely admire) the nerve of the man posing as a friendly colleague in Gabler’s office in Munich only a few weeks before he launched his vitriolic campaign. Present-day patrons of Kidd, take note: watch your files and your backs!

To validate his attack, Kidd impugns the objectivity and the scholarly integrity of the first commentators on the critical edition. He calls them “players” finding the play pleasing. During the early years of the work in progress, Hugh Kenner visited Munich and was afforded an overview of the project. He wrote an article on the subject for Harpers. Did this transform him into one of the editors and disqualify him from reviewing the finished work? Obviously not. On the contrary, being one of the few people who knew what he was talking about, it qualified him eminently. Richard Ellmann was a member of the Academic Advisory Committee. Strictly speaking, this Committee’s function was to advise the Estate of James Joyce, and not the editorial team. In practice, of course, their advice was passed on to the editor. It is a moot point whether this state of affairs disqualified Ellmann from writing a review. Yet Ellmann is surely an exceptional case; as the most senior of senior Joyceans, everybody wanted to hear what he had to say about the edition; and normal practice was, reasonably, suspended. The piece of another advisor, Michael Groden, which appeared in the James Joyce Quarterly was not a “review,” but was an article. Its purpose was primarily didactic and informative. To date, nothing on the edition has yet appeared in the Review section of the Quarterly.

Having dismissed Ellman’s review, Kidd quotes a letter from him in support of his own contentions. Apparently, Ellmann did not use the word “Stunning” in the advertising quote “An Absolutely Stunning Scholarly Achievement.” He does not say what word he did use, except to say that it was “approbatory.” Without access to the publishers’ files I cannot comment on the accuracy of Ellmann’s recall which, nevertheless, is probably correct. But this does not justify Kidd’s implication that what he said was “I am approbatory,” and that subsequently he considered even that approval “too strong.” Passing off one’s own opinions as those of a dead man is not only unscholarly, it is thoroughly reprehensible. It is doubly so in a context where, where Ellmann appears to agree with Kidd he is to be considered as reliable and where he disagrees he is to be considered as unreliable, as biased and as being a “player.”

While accusing the editors of “literary insensitivity,” Kidd exposes his own shortcomings in a case from “Eumaeus”; he declares as “gibberish,” and objects to the restoration of, the final part in the following four-phrase segment:

Whale with a harpoon hairpin, alligator tickle the small of his back and he sees the joke, chalk a circle for a rooster, tiger my eagle eye. [1984/86 version]

Bloom is musing about the power that man exerts over animals. The four phrases (of which the first and last have the verb missing but implicit) refer to folk wisdom about how to get out of tricky situations: show your harpoon hairpin to Moby Dick (a “fish”) and he’ll know who’s boss; when in the jaws of an alligator (a reptile) tickle the small of his back and he’ll open his mouth and let you out; draw a circle in chalk around an angry rooster (a bird) and he’ll be imprisoned, not being able to make up his mind which way to exit; confronted by a tiger (a beast) fix him with your unblinking eye and eventually, self-conscious, he will turn away. The fifth class of animal (the insect) has already been dismissed by Bloom as untamable: “barring the bees.” The real “gibberish” is Kidd’s contention that the last phrase should be re-broken up into “tiger” (on its own!) and “my eagle eye” along with his absurd conjecture that the eagles of A Portrait and “the Anglo version of mon oeil” are “loitering” here.

With regard to the other specific examples cited, the bulk amount to no more than differences of opinion, with Kidd, the neophyte, inevitably disagreeing with Gabler, the experienced professional. Of the flourishing of lists of hundreds and thousands of errors in the critical edition, one can only compare that with the ravings of Senator Joe McCarthy and his lists of communists in the State Department. Let Kidd please publish these and I can assure him that every case will be investigated thoroughly.

Like many other critics of the edition, Kidd falls back on the hoary old argument that Gabler was not entitled to perform the editing job that he did, because Joyce “passed,” “authorized” and “saw into print” the editions that appeared in his lifetime. Of all the authors in the history of literature, that argument has least validity with respect to Joyce. All of his life, Joyce battled relentlessly against unauthorized contamination of his texts. The “bon a tirer” on the final page proofs of Ulysses manifestly did not imply that he accepted the text therein but merely that he was finished revising and could keep it from the printers no longer. This is testified to doubly: by the letter to Harriet Weaver quoted in Gabler’s foreword to the 1984 Ulysses and by the publishers apology printed in the first edition itself. Joyce had many helpers—amanuenses, typists and note-takers—but on no occasion, not even once, has it been demonstrated that he yielded to any of them authoritative powers. The 1984 Ulysses is based on Joyce’s version of Joyce, and I believe it is the true one. It is the novel not merely or mechanically “as he wrote it,” but “as he intended as he wrote it”; the qualification is required to take into account the author’s own demonstrable oversights in copying and in correcting his text and the editor’s essential right and duty critically to assess such oversights, and, in addition, hiatuses in the manuscript witness.

Kidd ends his article with a clarion call to the publishers immediately to suspend the 1986 edition, on the strength of his as yet unpublished and unassessed paper and quite before his case is responded to by the editors. He then suggests that the Estate and the publishers should consider editing Ulysses afresh! Clearly, he has none other than himself in mind as “editor”! Thus the motivation for his campaign of vilification seeps out: it is solely for the purpose of personal ambition and advancement. He calls on a “foundation” to help him attain this sad end. Let me utter a word of warning to any such “foundation”; you may be throwing away your money. I refer you to the Spring, 1988, issue of the James Joyce Quarterly and the curious announcement on page 287:

Cóilín Owens writes that John Kidd has a contract for a limited edition (two hundred copies) of his Ulysses and that typesetting has begun.

I should like to end on a personal note. On first looking into Kidd’s article—and being like any normal person initially impressed—I called upon the shade of James Joyce to give me a sign by way of which I might understand his feelings on the matter. A few hours later, after a good dinner of stuffed roast pork, cabbage and potatoes, I was idly turning the pages of The New York Review when I saw it: the picture on page 39 of Joyce sitting in Shakespeare and Company’s bookshop with, behind him, a poster announcing “The Scandal of Ulysses.” That title was originally employed over a scurrilous piece of gutter journalism denouncing the first edition of Ulysses. By what unerring insight did Kidd appropriate it for his own similar efforts? As all other editions derive directly from that first edition, the 1984 Ulysses can correctly be designated the second independent edition. I suggest that Hans Walter Gabler have a copy of the corresponding page of the June 30, 1988, issue of The New York Review of Books blown up into a poster and have himself photographed sitting before it; copies to be sent to all the libraries in the world, including Marsh’s and Alexandria.

John O’Hanlon

Dublin, Ireland

To the Editors:

Wrily amused by John Kidd’s brand of critifiction in your issue of 18 August, I have two brief comments to make.

Professor Futura’s” failure to locate in Dr. Kidd’s published or unpublished pronouncements such terms as “manuscript [vs. text] edition,” “diplomatic fidelity” or “layout of manuscripts” is revealing. It means that he refuses to allow theoretical and methodological grounds to the fault-finding he is forcing on the public. Yet on his own reduced and limited scale, a discussion of the problems of editing Ulysses must, I am afraid, remain futile.

So must the nagging about a naming of correspondents contributing suggestions for the thirty or so modest textual changes made in the edited text in 1986. These changes are detailed in the preface to the second edition of the critical and synoptic Ulysses. They are acknowledged in a general note of thanks. Sapienti sat. Together with several other correspondents, Dr. Kidd may of course take pride in having helped to sharpen the critical text. The editors’ gratitude goes to him, as to them all. Yet without exception, the changes went to critically sharpening Joyce’s text. None were fresh or original conjectures. Moreover—and this should naturally be apparent to Professor Futura’s superior overview—identical suggestions for changes often came from more than one of the observant contributors.

Hans Walter Gabler

University of Munich

Munich, West Germany

To the Editors:

In his long and scathing article, “The Scandal of “Ulysses,” in your June 30 issue, John Kidd makes a number of accusations and presents some damning evidence against the Hans Walter Gabler editorial team and its edition of Ulysses. To criticize the Gabler edition is one thing, but to suggest the adoption of the 1961 edition is quite another. We have heard a great deal from Mr. Kidd about the flaws in Gabler’s work, but we have yet to hear from him regarding his own method for establishing a better text. As a layman in the esoterica of textual scholarship, I am not qualified to debate with either Kidd or Gabler, and I find several aspects of the Gabler text unsatisfactory, but I am aware of the terrible flaws in the 1961 edition. For Kidd to argue that this edition should be restored as the only available text from the sole American publisher diminishes one’s confidence in his judgment.

I would like to correct one accusation that Kidd makes. He says that Michael Groden, one of the editorial team working on the Gabler edition of Ulysses, wrote a review of the edition for the James Joyce Quarterly. Not true. Groden wrote a descriptive essay on the new edition for an issue of JJQ devoted to the international Joyce symposia. Because the Gabler Critical and Synoptic Edition of Ulysses was first presented at the 1984 symposium in Frankfurt, we thought it fitting to ask Groden to describe the work for our special symposium issue. Groden’s essay is neither labeled a review, nor does it appear in the review section of the journal where there are five reviews. JJQ has never formally reviewed the Gabler edition, and to suggest a conspiracy between JJQ and the editors of the new edition is irresponsible if not libelous.

Kidd must be precise in stating his case if he wishes to gain credence in his campaign against the Gabler edition.

Thomas F. Staley

Editor, James Joyce Quarterly

John Kidd replies:

John O’Hanlon’s long, defiant letter contains several points your readers will expect me to comment on, although inevitably this requires amplifying material from my original article “The Scandal of Ulysses,” from my exchange with H.W. Gabler in your issue of August 18, and from my July 22 and August 19 letters in the Times Literary Supplement.

Some must wonder why Mr. O’Hanlon claims a “prerogative and duty” to write a three-thousand-word letter to the editor. He calls himself “a member of the editorial team that oversaw the critical edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses,” yet Mr. O’Hanlon is named nowhere in Ulysses: The Corrected Text (Random House, Bodley Head, and Penguin, 1986), the chief target of my article. In the 1984 Garland edition, Mr. O’Hanlon is not listed as a co-editor but as one of six editorial assistants. True, he writes a racy line. A research assistant who flashes Overseer credentials deserves a response as much as anyone else.

Not wishing to trade remarks of a purely personal character, however, I must pass over some of Mr. O’Hanlon’s paragraphs. The editing of Ulysses can be debated without a reply to taunts that I am a “neophyte,” an author of “scurrilous…gutter journalism,” and the purveyor of “false (in some cases, knowingly false) allegations, misrepresentations, innuendoes and insults.”

  1. The first transcriptions were made from facsimiles (no other procedure would have been practicable) but these were later checked against the originals personally by Professor Gabler…. The transcription in its entirety was then independently checked three times (twice from the facsimile and once from the original).”

This claim, that the entire transcription of the Rosenbach Manuscript was confirmed by Gabler, is made neither in Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition, nor in Ulysses: The Corrected Text. The claim of having collated the nearly two-hundred-thousand-word Philadelphia document did not surface until my article demonstrated that the original simply could not have been collated in full. The 1984 edition does not even hint at inspection of the original: “Full transcripts of the Rosenbach Manuscript (eye-collated three times independently)…” (1984 Ulysses p. 1905). Where’s the part about one collation against the original?

Mr. O’Hanlon does not explain why the transcript reports as erasures mere blurs in the facsimile, such as the fantasized revision of “Joachim Abbas.” Nor does he comment on the ten genuine erasures within the seventeen leaves of Nestor, the shortest episode, mysteriously omitted from his transcription. Surely Mr. O’Hanlon doesn’t claim that the speculative record of erasures is his own work. He would lose all credibility were it revealed that he tried to transcribe erasures from the published facsimile. Perhaps another level was added to his transcription after it left his hands. If so, the errors originated in Munich. If not, Mr. Hanlon’s errors originated from working exclusively with facsimiles in a suburb of Dublin.

Why didn’t Gabler claim in his letters to The New York Review and the Times Literary Supplement that he had made end-to-end collations of all originals? Gabler says in his letter published in the July 1 Times Literary Supplement that “all the editorial work” was checked against originals and leaves us to guess who did the checking. Mr. O’Hanlon did not do it, but says Gabler did. The issue can be resolved if Gabler will publish a list of the dates that he signed the register of the Rosenbach Museum while collating the manuscript from end to end. Even if such dates are forthcoming, Gabler will still face the massive task urged by Antony Hammond in The Library (December 1986):

go to Philadelphia with a print-out of his team’s transcript of the Rosenbach, and go over it again, himself, against the original, to amend his master tapes, and if necessary to provide Garland (and thereby the owners of the edition) with that apparent sine qua non for any Ulysses edition: an errata list. Only then will the accuracy of the edition be established beyond question.

  1. Each individual word and punctuation mark had to be assessed, not merely to see that it corresponded ‘diplomatically’ to the holograph (where it existed) but also to inquire whether there might be bibliographical or textual/critical reasons why it should be emended.”

Here Mr. O’Hanlon adopts a turgid style meant to boggle the reader, but the phrase “corresponded ‘diplomatically”’ is of some moment. Tending to shy from unnecessary jargon, I didn’t use the term “diplomatic” in my article (it means that erasures, additions, deletions, even slips, are recorded faithfully without editorial correction in the genetic apparatus). Gabler protested in his letter of August 18 that the edition never claimed “diplomatic or topographic fidelity.” Now Mr. O’Hanlon asserts that diplomatic transcription was central to the edition. I showed in “The Scandal of Ulysses” and in “Gaelic in the New Ulysses” that the manuscript record is very poor indeed.

Having never seen the original Harvard proof, on which Captain Buller’s name is obscured, Mr. O’Hanlon tries to assure us that it is no more legible than the facsimile which he has seen. Trust me, he says, them originals ain’t worth the bother.

Readers able to make sense out of the 1984 apparatus and its symbols should compare the last pages of the “Wandering Rocks” episode with the Rosenbach facsimile. For reasons unclear to me, additions in pencil to the ink base text are transcribed as if both elements were written at the same time. No signal is given by Gabler that parts are in ink and parts in pencil, nor whether the pencil is Joyce’s or Budgen’s, or whose the second level of ink. The passages are transcribed as if written with one flowing of Budgen’s pen from Joyce’s dictation. Some pencil revisions aren’t recorded at all. (My report to the Random House commission, “An Inquiry into Ulysses: The Correctea Text,” provides examples of these oversights, but anyone can find them in minutes, especially at 1984 synoptic pages 540 to 546. For a workable system, see Fredson Bowers, “Transcription of Manuscripts,” Studies in Bibliography 29, 1976.)

  1. If Shrift had been investigated, then logically so should Messrs. Green, Patey, Scaife, Jeffs, Morphy, Stevenson, Adderly, and Huggard, not to mention the thousands of other names in Ulysses. Did Kidd do this? I very much doubt it. If the editors had done so…it would have amounted to inadmissible evidence according to the methodology of the edition.”

Actually, I have done precisely what Mr. O’Hanlon doubts very much. When Joyce dictated to Frank Budgen the names of the bicycle racers, Budgen made slips common to aural transcription. Both Greene and Adderley (as they are properly named) had mute e‘s drop from their names. The otherwise unattested “Jeffs” has a fascinating genealogy. As Robert Martin Adams demonstrated in his Surface and Symbol in 1962, J.B. Jones finished behind Harry Thrift in the race, but type damage in the Irish Independent caused Joyce to misread the name. What Budgen wrote down as “Joffs,” Joyce revised to “Jeffs” in third proof. Because all these names were first written out by Budgen and not Joyce, an editor must decide if Budgen’s slips are to pass uncorrected. Whether the editor goes with Green and Adderly or Greene and Adderley, Budgen’s errors cannot stand without comment.

I could not disagree more strongly with Mr. O’Hanlon’s theory that anything written by Budgen must go unquestioned. After all, on the same page as the Shrift blunder, and the unnoticed Green and Adderly, the 1984 editors had no qualms about changing Budgen’s “Landsdowne road” to “Lansdowne.” The unhistorical spelling stood since 1922. The 1984 text claims “Lansdowne” as one of its five thousand corrections, yet Mr. O’Hanlon argues that—“textual-critically”—historical names are “inadmissible evidence according to the methodology of the edition.”

Mr. O’Hanlon has not yet caught on that Joyce alone could have corrected “Connolly” to “Conolly” on the three typescripts of Ulysses. Thom’s Directory, which spells Conolly Norman correctly seven times and incorrectly twice, is not in the 1984 bibliography. Now Mr. O’Hanlon insists that I must cite any passage of Thom’s that supports the 1984 misspelling. That’s Gabler’s job not mine.

Mr. O’Hanlon lays out his unorthodox theory of editing on behalf of The Corrected Text because Gabler has never written on the issue of how and when the manuscripts should be emended. In my list of thirteen categories of unexplained emendations that pervade the Gabler editions, categories six and seven were “changes of personal names” and “changes of place names.” These thirteen categories I labeled “entire classes of emendation not discussed in The Synoptic Edition or The Corrected Text.” Now that a former assistant rates such changes “inadmissible,” we wonder why some were made and others not. (Irregular names are discussed in G.T. Tanselle’s “External Fact as an Editorial Problem,” Studies in Bibliography 32, 1979. Fascinating examples are given in Jürgen Shäfer’s “The Orthography of Proper Names in Modern-spelling Editions of Shakespeare,” Studies in Bibliography 23, 1970.)

  1. Mr. O’Hanlon believes that my article “Gaelic in the New Ulysses” was “resoundingly refuted in detail by Danis Rose” and that I have rudely withheld acknowledgment of that resounding refutation. Having made no use of Rose’s opinions, why should I have quoted or cited him? For Mr. O’Hanlon’s sake, let me now do so. From the last paragraph of Rose’s blistering critique:

…it is indicative of the extraordinary comprehensiveness and accuracy of the new text that he [Kidd] was at a loss to find one [error]. As self-appointed prolocutor for the case against Gabler, and in view of his straining at each passing gnat, his inability to adduce any substantial evidence…

To Rose, my article on Gaelic (as the language is known in America) provided not one point where Gabler might usefully change his reading text of Ulysses. Conceding that maybe three or four footnotes might be in order, in March 1986 Rose dismissed as “gnats” the working-draft spellings and accents Gabler had omitted. Three months later, in June, The Corrected Text appeared with unacknowledged corrections of the Gaelic and Spanish passages I had objected to in October 1985. The removal of italics and the corrections of English spelling proposed in my article were also adopted without credit. The gnats swatted with the left hand were husbanded by the right.

  1. Of the seven caches of documents unseen by Gabler which bear on the text of Ulysses, Mr. O’Hanlon is silent on six: library holdings in Austin, Carbondale, New Haven, New York City, Princeton, and Tulsa. Instead, he introduces an “open letter dated 21 May, 1985.” But Gabler’s 1985 letter was not published until now. Had it been, I would have responded immediately to its charges. Let me respond three years after being maligned in a letter addressed to me but circulated without my knowledge.

I asked Gabler point-blank in Munich if he had turned up any unpublished Joyce correspondence on Ulysses during the seven years of his research. He said no. And his edition lists none. Satisfied that Gabler had left much undone, I set off to locate unpublished materials. Gabler announced on April 26, 1985, at the Society of Textual Scholarship that he had “records” that no missing postcard from Joyce to Claud Sykes existed:

the Poetry Collection at Buffalo have by most recent communication affirmed my own record of the case: they assert that they have no such unpublished postcard, under such or other date, as cited….

Gabler continues with self-praise for the

comprehensive and judicious use we have made of unpublished as of published Joycean as of Joyce-associated materials. The imputation of a general policy of non-attention to unpublished materials is ludicrous.

(“A Response to John Kidd,” typescript, page 2.)

Ludicrous or not, the imputation has proved to be true. The card of December 19, 1917, has a passage of Ulysses we have always read as “His seacold eyes looked on the empty bay” (1961, page 30). But in the card, Joyce first wrote “on the empty bay” then revised to “over the empty bay.” Here we have either a revision made spontaneously, or the only evidence about a change in the now lost working draft which Joyce thought, mistakenly, he had transferred to the Rosenbach. A small point, but one that no genetic text can silently pass over (or pass on).

What Jack Dalton planned to do about “over the empty bay” (and I knew all along he declined to emend “on” to “over”, having copied out faithfully every scratch on his notecard) is less important than Gabler’s claim that he had “records” that the card did not exist. After my efforts led to its recovery (I was the first to write Buffalo and the first to have a photocopy of the card from Robert Bertholf), Gabler excuses his oversight by charging me with “ineptitude” and “double-dealing.” How can Gabler write, “Nor did you seek out the Buffalo postcard” when I was the first since Dalton to seek and find it? What belligerent open letters can I expect for having found Joyce’s instructions to Pound changing the text of Ulysses? Dare I publish other materials overlooked by Gabler? Should I seek, then tremble when I find?

Mr. O’Hanlon feels I have sinned by using the Dalton materials put at my disposal in Munich. To all Joyceans and curators he warns: “watch your files and your backs!” I have examined Jack Dalton’s open file at the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation (but not his confidential file) and long ago requested permission to use his papers deposited at Buffalo after his death in 1981. Should Gabler deny researchers access to Dalton’s four thousand three-by-five cards loaned to him in Munich? I hope the Dalton family will arrange for a decade’s work to be deposited at SUNY-Buffalo with his other papers.

  1. Kidd impugns the objectivity and the scholarly integrity of the first commentators on the critical edition.” The reviewers’ integrity was never in question, but Mr. O’Hanlon and I have entirely divergent views of the process of evaluating scholarly projects. He sees nothing wrong with the reviews or, as he characterizes one, “articles” by advisers to the edition. Many scholars have been shocked by the practice.

If Groden’s 1985 piece in the James Joyce Quarterly is not a review, then that journal is negligent in not reviewing the edition. No, Groden’s piece looked like a review, read like a review, and has been quoted as a review. It is the only evaluation of the edition to appear in JJQ from 1984 to the present. Groden’s parenthetic disclaimer about “my involvement” is too vague. If reprinted, it should be titled “This is Not a Review: I am Named on the Title Page.”

  1. Mr. O’Hanlon differs with me on the punctuation of a passage in the “Eumaeus” episode. I argued that the passage was very difficult, bordering on gibberish, and that to overrule the punctuation of the final Rosenbach Manuscript and all editions clarified nothing. This was only one of seven places on Corrected Text page 541 where Gabler overruled what Joyce wrote out deliberately in his final manuscript. He says my article “objects to the restoration” of the passage. The final manuscript version, “tiger, my eagle eye,” I believe superior to the discarded “tiger my eagle eye.” There was no gain from the deletion, and removing Joyce’s comma is not a “restoration.”

  2. Mr. O’Hanlon mentions that the “Eumaeus” episode in the Rosenbach Manuscript is a revision of a previous draft. True enough: all the chapters went through multiple drafts. For some we have earlier versions, for others we do not. He then quotes a draft sentence in support of Gabler’s borrowed “handsome,” which is absent from Joyce’s final version. In quoting this sentence, he publishes several verbal variants unrecorded in the Synoptic Edition, inadvertently proving my point that Gabler has yet to offer a genetic text of Ulysses. The sentence quoted from Buffalo manuscript V.A.21 includes the words way, incurable, and fancy for, none of which are in the so-called synopsis of 1984. Mr. O’Hanlon sets up Gabler as an expert exercising his judgment on drafts that remain unpublished. Who is to rate Gabler’s choices if we have no idea how heavily Joyce revised between the draft and final fair copy? From the single sentence of the draft now published, it is obvious that Joyce drastically rewrote it. I stand by my objection against the insertion of “handsome” which Joyce omitted from the reshaped final version. Without publishing a full transcript of the draft, Gabler has not earned the right to conflate distinct versions whose complexities remain undocumented to this day.

  3. Having responded confusingly to three of my seven objections to page 541 of The Corrected Text, but not at all to my protest that Gabler removed twenty-seven sets of ellipses written by Joyce in the same episode, nor to the thirteen categories of fiddling with Joyce’s final manuscript forms of names, italics, capitalization, grammar, etc., nor to my observation that in two thousand places no manuscript agrees with The Corrected Text and that four hundred times Gabler drew on post-1922 editions to overrule all manuscripts and the first edition, Mr. O’Hanlon dismisses my protests as “no more than differences of opinion.”

Mr. O’Hanlon envisions me a Senator Joe McCarthy “flourishing…lists of hundreds and thousands of errors in the critical edition.” Unlike McCarthy I have named names—Captain Buller, Harry Thrift, Conolly Norman (and now Greene and Adderley). There are hundreds of errors of fact, but I never claimed there were “thousands of errors,” only thousands of dubious judgments. Both Gabler and Mr. O’Hanlon are hoping that readers will not sit down with the Garland Synoptic Edition, turning page after page, scrutinizing the footnotes, confirming that its own documentation reveals that Joyce’s manuscripts were overruled three, five, or seven times per page.

  1. Kidd falls back on the hoary old argument that Gabler was not entitled to perform the editing job that he did, because Joyce ‘passed,’ ‘authorized’ and ‘saw into print’ the editions that appeared in his lifetime.”

In writing that “Ulysses: The Corrected Text is not a purified text (new blunders like ‘Shrift’ aside), but a different version from what Joyce conceived,” I used the term version in the same sense that Hanz Zeller, the Swiss editor of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, uses Fassung in “A New Approach to the Critical Constitution of Literary Texts,” Studies in Bibliography 28 (1975). James Thorpe’s Principles of Textual Criticism (1972) pages 185–191, also explains the concept of “version.” If a Ulysses appears with four words on the first page alone different from what Joyce revised several times in proof, a new version is created. I wrote that “such a new text (were it accurate) could stand beside the version published in Joyce’s lifetime only as an alternative—not as a replacement.” Since on the same page I wrote that all individual states of this version from 1922 to 1961 contain serious errors, it is silly for Mr. O’Hanlon to announce the existence of typos created by French printers. None of the four word changes on the first page can be proved to be “typos” and the Gabler text is not “Joyce’s version of Joyce…the true one,” as Mr. O’Hanlon has it. The Gabler Ulysses is a flawed, different textual version from the texts of 1922–1961.

My suggestion that we resume reading the 1961 edition, to which most scholarship is keyed, was an interim solution. I have compiled a list of 900 points at which the 1961 text differs from both the 1922 edition and all manuscripts. But the 1961 edition has 700 readings attested in manuscript and wrong in 1922. To regain the original, authentic readings of 1922 while steering clear of its own typos is a first step, and the one offered this year to the Arion Press for their deluxe Ulysses. We must next go back beyond the 1922, undertaking new manuscript studies.

  1. Thus the motivation for his campaign of vilification seeps out: it is solely for the purpose of personal ambition and advancement.” Mr. O’Hanlon believes that he is revealing my hand in the Arion Press Ulysses illustrated by Robert Motherwell. The project was already mentioned in the June 27 issue of Time magazine. This sumptuous livre d’artiste is limited to 150 copies at $7,500. I get one copy but no royalty. Far from being under my sway, the printer-designer-publisher-cum-entrepreneur Andrew Hoyem has his own ideas about how Joyce should have spelled and punctuated Ulysses. Such typographic splendours rarely carry an authentic text anyway, and Motherwell’s illustrations command the price. It will be a treasure to behold. Arion Press had bought a reprint license for The Corrected Text but decided not to use the Gabler version. Too many errors.

Hans Gabler’s letter dismisses as “futile” our debate over the text of Ulysses because I don’t share his love for obscure theorizing. As for method, his edition falls well below the usual scholarly standards of America, England, or Germany. Despite my general avoidance of Gabler’s pet phrases and coinages, I mentioned his “diplomatic [in]fidelity” in the response to Mr. O’Hanlon, point 2 above.

In his July 1 letter to the Times Literary Supplement, Gabler characterizes me as one of many “correspondents contributing suggestions” for the “modest” changes (in five languages, he neglects to say) to his Ulysses. I sent him no corrections by mail. The number taken from my work is greater than all his unnamed sources combined. He makes the same evasion in his August 12 letter to the TLS. In reply (TLS, August 19) I quoted from his Response to my paper “Errors of Execution,” read at the Society of Textual Scholarship on April 26, 1985. During the question and answer period, and quite to my surprise, Gabler came to the podium and read a ten-page denunciation of me, concluding with a refusal to change anything in his Ulysses. I will supply gratis copies of his screed to anyone writing me. But here’s a taste:

I wish I had the privilege of answering a worthier challenge. Beyond having taken the opportunity of airing some perhaps not altogether unimportant points of editorial rationale, let me stress in closing that nothing [his emphasis] has emerged from Dr. Kidd’s paper to change the critical text of Ulysses.

[Gabler’s verse envoi of seventeen lines follows. As an original poem under copyright, it cannot be quoted here.]

My August 19 Times Literary Supplement letter continued:

Such bluster is often punctured by remorse, and subsequently Gabler smuggled into his 1986 trade edition useful Kidd-Korrekturen. My writings (listed in my letter of July 22–28) have never been acknowledged as a source by Gabler. “The revised printing…acknowledges suggestions,” Gabler now claims, putting new spin on the verb “to acknowledge.” What Orwellian acknowledgement can omit, the name of the author and the writings appropriated? The revised printing says that changes were suggested “in published form and by private communication” (page viii). No names, no dates, no places. That the majority are mine is concealed: my name is as scarce as John Stanislaus Joyce on rent day. Having declared that “nothing” would be changed, could Gabler acknowledge his debts without losing face?

In his note on the corrected “second impression” (actually the third) of the Synoptic Edition, Gabler billed this as a new and improved product:

In some important instances, however, new light has been shed on the factors determining the editorial shaping of the text, and we have gratefully adopted proposals for change [page viii].

Now that the principal, if unnamed, contributor to this “important…new light” has stepped forward, Gabler’s gratitude has turned sour, as his letters to the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Review display:

In no sense were their suggestions fresh and original conjectures. They sharpened, rather, the perception of the documented Joycean text [Times Literary Supplement, August 12].

Yet without exception, the changes went to critically sharpening Joyce’s text. None were fresh or original conjectures [Gabler’s letter quoted above].

I would like to offer a glimpse at only one of the stale and unoriginal conjectures which Gabler has lifted from my work. As much energy as Gabler has spent in blasting the “popular press” for reporting on my scholarship, he is not above using The Washington Post as a crib sheet. David Remnick’s April 2, 1985, article “Jolting the Joyceans” raised an issue that had never been addressed in sixty years of Joyce research:

In the famous “Penelope” chapter that concludes the novel, Joyce reconstructs the interior monologue of Leopold’s wife, Molly. The chapter consists of eight long unbroken paragraphs. Joyce originally concluded each of the eight sections with periods but then, according to Kidd, struck out six of those, keeping periods only after the fourth and the final sentence. Gabler believes that Joyce forgot to strike out the period after the fourth and includes only the final punctuation [pages B1–4].

Unnoticed, the midpoint period has wandered in and out of “Penelope” for decades. In Gabler’s 1984 Ulysses there is no period after “ashpit” at line 747, yet in his 1986 trade edition the pivotal fourth paragraph concludes “they might as well throw you out in the bottom of the ashpit.” Even those who haven’t read Ulysses “know” that Molly’s soliloquy has no punctuation. Yet on 1986 page 624 is the pivotal period. And why there? The editor who put it in (after having taken it out) is silent.

Molly’s first page names the “sugarloaf Mountain” and her most famous words end, “yes to say yes my mountain flower…and yes I said yes I will Yes.” From the sugarloaf mountain to the bottom of the ashpit and back up the mountainside, in an analogy to Dantean geography, the Eternal Geomater herself revolving on her bottom backside justifies my “conjecture.” Or so Gabler now calls what he found so useful for a correction to his Corrected Text.

To document my role as Chief Text-Perception-Critical-Sharpener would require an article in itself. In the meantime, Hans Gabler ought to publish the names of his sources for each change adopted.

Mr. Staley’s letter pretending that I am silent on my own editorial rationale and on the defects of the 1961 Ulysses was answered in point 10 above. I have never suggested we “adopt” the 1961 text. But after the Gabler version is scrapped the Modern Library text will have to serve until Ulysses is re-edited. Mr. Staley’s real pique is over the exposure of his journal’s negligence. His defense of assigning the only James Joyce Quarterly article about the Gabler Ulysses to one of its collaborators was touched on in point 6 above. His assertion that the Groden review-article commemorated the Frankfurt Symposium is pure malarkey: the words “Frankfurt Symposium” do not appear in it.

Mr. Staley himself endorsed the edition before it appeared. In Recent Research on Anglo-Irish Writers, edited by Richard Finneran in 1983, Mr. Staley wrote, “Hans Walter Gabler, with the help of computer technology, is currently preparing a critical edition of Ulysses that promises to be definitive…we shall soon have a definitive one…Gabler [has] made truly significant contributions to Joyce scholarship.”

The James Joyce Quarterly has for four years promoted and sustained the Gabler revolution. My protest has been accorded an average of one sentence per annum. Never has any of my evidence against the edition been cited in the pages of the James Joyce Quarterly (a bibliography is in my letter to the Times Literary Supplement, July 22, 1988). I was once asked to submit a ten-page typescript—half the space that others were offered for an issue on editing Ulysses. This offer was withdrawn on February 25, 1986.

Mr. Staley declares it a near-libel for me to call the Groden article a review. The word is Mr. Staley’s own. In the Fall 1984 issue, page 5, he wrote: “Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition has been published, followed by front-page articles in newspapers around the country and the world. We will review the edition in the next issue.” The next issue, Winter 1985, featured Michael Groden’s endorsement. For using the word “review” I am called “irresponsible if not libelous”; I am not “precise”; I lack “credence.”

Mr. Staley detects an accusation of conspiracy with the German editors. I wrote, “Without appearing to build a conspiracy theory…” Call it Asynchronicity, but Mr. Staley’s letter has been quoted against me in Die Weltwoche (July 28, 1988, page 37), two months before appearing in English. Thomas Pynchon’s paranoia about the Thurn & Taxis postal system burrowing beneath America comes to mind.

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