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Ulysses’ Update

In response to:

The New 'Ulysses': The Hidden Controversy from the December 8, 1988 issue

To the Editors:

The New York Review of December 8, 1988, with Charles Rossman’s article on the Gabler edition of Ulysses, my letter, and John Kidd’s response, prompts one observation plus two questions for Mr. Kidd.

—My letter noted that the Review has consistently offered Kidd more space than all his critics, and this issue is no exception; my rough scorecard gives Groden 500 words to Kidd’s 1100, not to mention Rossman’s six pages.

—(1) When, in my TLS letter regarding the controversy (Oct. 7–13), I emphasized a couple of the specific errors Kidd attributes to Gabler, I did this not to “rescue” the Gabler edition, as Kidd charges (NYR, Dec. 8, p. 61), but rather to question Kidd’s own use of examples. In the context of his wholesale condemnation of the edition, a very small list of supposed errors, even augmented by two or three, remains a very small list. I wondered then, and still wonder, about the relationship between the number of examples he has offered and the “scandal” of errors he evokes. Are we meant to extrapolate from these few specific examples into the hundreds or thousands of errors Kidd claims Gabler has committed, or does the “scandal” consist of these very few specifics plus hundreds or thousands of readings that may turn out to be differences of editorial opinion?

—(2) Has Kidd’s expanded, scholarly article been submitted to the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America in a finished version; has the PBSA accepted it; and has a publication date been set? Rossman states that it was submitted in September (NYR, Dec. 8, p. 58), but readers who have been following this debate and have been awaiting the article’s appearance would find it useful to learn about the status of the article from Kidd himself.

Michael Groden
University of Western Ontario
Ontario, Canada

John Kidd replies:

Mr. Groden should be delighted to learn that “An Inquiry into Ulysses: The Corrected Text,” my report to the Random House committee and the final version of my monograph for the Bibliographical Society, will be released at the James Joyce Birthday Conference at the University of Miami, February 2–4. As I have twice said in print this year, my study documents hundreds of errors of fact in the Gabler Ulysses, and comments on more than two thousand cases of bad judgment.

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