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Making the Wrong Joyce

Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition

edited by Danis Rose
Picador, 739 pp., £20.00/Canadian $39.99

Homer’s Ulysses returned home from twenty years of misadventure, slew the suitors besetting his palace, and embraced faithful Penelope in a bed constructed of a still-living olive tree. Before he slept, Ulysses summed up for his wife the battles, shipwrecks, and years of slavery to the nymph Calypso and the sorceress Circe. In truth, he was a willing lover to both temptresses. In James Joyce’s version of the same legend, his Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, returns home in the early hours of June 17, 1904, and recalls in staggering detail his wanderings across Dublin. When James Joyce compiles in tabular form Bloom’s budget, he accounts for every penny earned, borrowed, lent, and spent, with three exceptions.

Bloom hops a train during his Nighttown rescue of young, drunken Stephen Dedalus, but the penny fare is missing from the book’s budget. Ten shillings for Stephen’s entertainment in Bella Cohen’s kip and a shil-ling for a shattered lamp are unlisted as well. Ulysses at least mentioned Circe to Penelope but Bloom’s budget ignores his travels to Circe altogether. Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition, edited by Danis Rose, for the first time fleshes out Bloom’s budget. Forging ahead where Joyce held back, Mr. Rose details the expenses incurred in the “Circe” chapter. The penny train fare and eleven shillings for “Mrs Cohen” now join the costs of a lunch, a dinner, and a midnight “Coffee and bun.” These are not footnotes, but new lines incorporated into Joyce’s book by Mr. Rose.

Mr. Rose mentions no new-found manuscripts of Ulysses. Instead, his Introduction explains that “extensive and invasive surgery” was necessary to make the “Ithaca” chapter accurate. Leopold Bloom’s account books have been opened for public scrutiny by a daring editor, one willing to revise Joyce’s Ulysses in spots where others were content merely to annotate it for the past seventy-five years. Not since editors demoted two “petty officers” to “sailors” in Herman Melville’s Billy Budd to match naval history has such a bold, confident, and controversial editorial policy been announced. What Melville’s editors did twice or thrice, Mr. Rose has executed a hundred times over.

What exactly is a Reader’s Edition? An early advertisement in The Bookseller (London) addressed to retailers, not readers, quotes the new editor himself: “This is a people’s Ulysses…a text smuggled out of the ivory tower of the academics and put squarely in the marketplace.” Danis Rose, who in fact is not an academic but a Joyce enthusiast and freelance editor living in leafy Chapelizod outside Dublin, relishes his new role as entrepreneur.

The Spring marketing sheet from Picador quotes Mr. Rose: “The Reader’s Edition liberates the text…and makes it possible for the first time for the general reader to relish every nuance and beauty of Joyce’s masterpiece.” How is this achieved? The editor, to use his own word, has engaged in “copyreading” what Joyce wrote.

Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition is not Danis Rose’s first ill-starred project. He once worked with Hans Walter Gabler, the editor of Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition.* When hundreds of factual errors in that edition were enumerated line-by-line in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (December 1988), Gabler’s trade version, Ulysses: The Corrected Text, was withdrawn by Penguin in Europe and Canada and the Joyce Estate released Gabler as General Editor of the Estate Edition of the Works of James Joyce. Danis Rose, the announced editor of Finnegans Wake for the Estate Edition, was also dismissed, and the Gabler-Rose series cancelled.

Then, in October 1992, Rose announced, in his words, “the greatest literary find of the century”—seven new short stories by James Joyce. These were neither “new” nor “short stories.” What Rose called Finn’s Hotel was seven crude drafts already transcribed and published by David Hayman in 1963 in A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake. Viking-Penguin, just liberated from Gabler’s Ulysses, withdrew Finn’s Hotel at a considerable loss before a single copy was sold.

For his third venture and third publisher, Rose placed such a tight embargo on Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition that neither of the endorsers quoted on the dust jacket were aware that their names would appear on a book whose interventionist policies they knew nothing of. Fritz Senn, founder of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, is cited on the rear jacket: “This may be the handy, usable Ulysses that we have been waiting for.” Then, again, maybe not: one week after publication Senn told The New York Times, “This is not my Ulysses.”

Even as some former collaborators of Rose are dissociating themselves from his text—or attacking the work outright—Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition is arriving on the shores of Commonwealth nations. Having established a Canadian beachhead this July, the book may be published in the United States after December 31, 1997. Seventy-five years after the 1922 first edition, when the American copyright on Ulysses is about to expire, the Estate representatives have rushed to court in London to demand that the Reader’s Edition, if it is reprinted at all, have the name of James Joyce stripped from the cover, spine, and title page. Their position is that 10,000 changes, including perhaps 7,000 that do not appear in any existing manuscript or edition, are so anti-Joycean that the author is Danis Rose, not James Joyce.

The rewriting of James Joyce by Danis Rose is detectable from the novel’s outset. In the first sentence of Ulysses, Joyce’s own punctuation is discarded. In the next, Buck Mulligan’s “dressinggown” is broken into two words, and five lines below a capitalized “Jesuit” replaces Joyce’s less reverential “jesuit.” Such revisions, Mr. Rose says, are meant to “maximize the pleasure of the reader.”

By the second page, where Buck Mulligan called Stephen Dedalus a “woful lunatic” at the top of the Martello Tower, a more familiar “woeful” has been supplied. Apparently Joyce’s spelling is thought to be too precious and has been modernized. But in pre-Rose versions, John Milton’s spelling of “woful” was a recurrent motif sounded most poignantly as Stephen Dedalus leads his class through a recitation of “Lycidas” in the second chapter:

Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more,
For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor…

The Reader’s Edition, Mr. Rose wrote before publication, “is designed pre-eminently for the lover of literature, and the aesthetic qualities—the sense, the sound and flow of words—have been subjected to a refinement which only a craftsman, not a scholar alone, could hope to bring to bear.” It is a refinement that, in this case, ejects Milton’s spelling along with Joyce’s.

The editor-craftsman repunctuates the second sentence of Chapter 17 to give it a better flow: “Starting united, both at normal walking pace from Beresford Place they followed in the order named….” Mr. Rose must have felt Joyce’s lack of punctuation was insufferable for a reader in the 1990s, for he has, without a source, inserted the comma after “united.” Does this help or hinder? Something seems askew with the new sentence. Under Mr. Rose’s guidance, Stephen and Bloom now start “united,” and then falter.

Molly Bloom’s interior monologue in the “Penelope” chapter is the greatest challenge for Mr. Rose’s concern with refinement. With a choice handful of exceptions, those forty pages have always flowed without periods, commas, foreign accents, apostrophes, or italics. Mr. Rose offers a compromise. He will withhold the commas but impose dozens of the hyphens, italics, accents, and apostrophes that Joyce himself excised in the first and later editions. In exchange for lost potential commas, though, Mr. Rose provides capital letters, as in her second line when Molly thinks of “City Arms Hotel” instead of the “hotel” of Joyce’s manuscript.

Mr. Rose understands that advanced readers may be ready for a more classic rendering of “Penelope.” A second version, nominally more faithful to the 1922 first-edition text, is attached in an Appendix. The reader may reach the final phrase, “yes I said yes I will Yes,” turn the page, and re-read the entire chapter in its “alternative format” without the accents and apostrophes. His own hyphens, italics, and capitals Mr. Rose maintains in both “formats.” A third, plain-vanilla “Penelope” in Joyce’s hyphen-and-italics-free style was ruled out, but is available in any other edition the dismayed or dissatisfied reader may pick up.

Joyce disdained the hyphen, except in the word “no-one.” Mr. Rose has inserted thousands of hyphens into words Joyce, in his inimitable manner, fused as one word. Yet Joyce’s uncommon “no-one” now conforms to the Picador-Rose style sheet as “no one.” One of the most beautiful sentences in Ulysses had no hyphens before Mr. Rose, and the final result, with one compound hyphenated, one not, seems skewed, unbalanced:

The heaventree of stars hung with humid night-blue fruit.

On page 611, in the “Ithaca” chapter, facing Mr. Rose’s now “night-blue fruit,” Bloom imagines the people of Israel, or Ireland, escaping Earth for distant planets. He then recalls some readings in popular science. Nothing with footnotes, just the sort of book where youngsters learn that the atmospheric pressure spread out over an entire body could reach “19 tons.” This weighty number, written by Joyce on his typescript and surviving in all pre-Rose versions, apparently seemed so heavy that the editor banished tonnage altogether. Mr. Rose opted to measure not the pressure sustainable by the entire body, but across a mere patch of skin. Thus Joyce’s crushing 19 tons become “14.6 pounds per square inch.” Joyce did not mention square inches—they are Mr. Rose’s contribution. A common figure for atmospheric pressure at sea level is 2,116 pounds per square foot (144 times a square inch). That’s a ton already and only the area of a loincloth has been accounted for. Why replace Joyce’s reasonably accurate pop science with pedantry?

Joyce’s geography is tampered with in the same “Ithaca” chapter. A “Marianne Trench” at “6000 fathoms” is Mr. Rose’s concoction. Bloom was thinking of the Sunda (or Java) Trench at a fantastical “8000 fathoms,” which Joyce called “its unplumbed depths.” Mr. Rose’s trench is seven thousand miles to the northeast, indeed in another hemisphere.

In Joyce’s “Cyclops” chapter a colonel breaks down upon seeing the widow of the Irish patriot he’s just hanged: “God blimey if she aint a clinker, that there bleeding tart.” Compare D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers: “‘Well, I’ll be jiggered!’ said the mutual friend. ‘An’ was it a proper tart?’ ‘Tart, God blimey—yes!”’ Mr. Rose judged Joyce a poor hand at dialect (and apostrophe usage) so he emended the manuscript to “Cor blimey if she ain’t a clinker…”

Much ink has been splashed over editors trying to help Joyce populate Ulysses with as many “real” people as his reference books and his memory could conjure up eighteen years after he left Ireland for “Trieste-Zurich-Paris.” Surely Ulysses portrays more real Dubliners than any other novel ever had real Londoners or Berliners. Many Dubliners would be known to Joyce only from the dinner table talk of his gregarious father. Some of his father’s cronies from the civil service young James knew personally, others perhaps by reputation.

Mr. Rose was not the first to notice that the family friend Tom Devin turned up as “Devan” in Ulysses. Joyce’s letters spell the name both ways. His memory failed him. So too “old Wetherup.” John Stanislaus Joyce’s friend from the Rates Office was William Weatherup of 37 Gloucester Street Upper. Thom’s Directory for 1878 gives both home and work addresses. Why does the Reader’s Edition feature “Devin” and not “Weatherup”?

Identifying erroneous place names has been a stated goal of all Joyce editors in recent years, but none seems patient enough to fact-check Ulysses line by line. Changing “Landsdowne” to “Lansdowne” is easy for Rose and Gabler. But to notice what is askew about the village called “Arbraccan” in Gabler (14.221) and Rose (371.08) requires the academic toil that Professor Gabler neglects and Mr. Rose maligns. That it eluded an Irish-born editor is astonishing. In brief, “Ard” is the high part of a place and “Braccan” derives from St. Brecan, the Irish saint who erected a church there in the sixth century. The marketplace is still awaiting an edition with “Ardbraccan” and many another correctable Irish place or person.

Like Hans Walter Gabler, Danis Rose has mangled names that were correct before his intervention. On the second page of Molly’s monologue, Rose modifies a piece of gossip: “I saw him and he not long married flirting with a young girl at Pooles’ Myriorama.” Charles W. Poole was the impresario who brought cyclorama and variety shows to Dublin. Rose’s misplaced apostrophe turns him into “Pooles.” Sir John Martin-Harvey in his handsome youth bore the stage name of Martin Harvey (first name and last), so hyphenating young Martin in a book of 1904 Dublin is both an anachronism and a fresh error. Rejiggering Joyce’s “Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn” into “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” helps very little. Both names are perfectly well attested, so the Joycean form should stand.

One of the grosser gaffes in Gabler’s Ulysses: The Corrected Text was his deliberate change of cricketer “Captain Buller” to “Culler” on the last page of the “Lotus Eaters” chapter. This is Gabler’s mistranscription from the facsimile of a Ulysses galley at Harvard. One Captain Buller lived on the outskirts in “Byron Lodge,” which Joyce exploits by placing Buller in the episode where he first alludes to Lord Byron. This clever allusion aside, there was a famous Captain C.F. Buller rumored to have slogged a ball so far off Trinity’s College Park grounds that it broke a window in the Kildare Street Club, as Bloom recalls. (Other rumors say W.R. Grace was the champion slogger.) The British Captain Buller played for Harrow, Middlesex, and the flamboyant “I Zingari” (The Gypsies) Club, which had enough Irish visibility for Molly Bloom to recall the “Zingari colours.”

After Gabler’s blunder over Buller, one might expect his protégé Danis Rose to be careful when cricket bats are cracking. Instead, the Reader’s Edition transmutes Joyce’s “Zingari colours” into “zingaro colours.” This required three changes on a single word—the proper noun’s capital struck down, its plural ending made singular, and the whole italicized as if it were a snippet of Italian. Readers with a smidgen of that language will think Molly means brightly exotic clothing, “gypsy colours.” No, she’s recalling her Poldy in the club muffler of green, purple, pink, and yellow stripes: “Zingari colours.”

The historical Captain Buller (and Leopold Bloom) wore Zingari colors, one on his cap as a player, one as a fan of the team. What book except Ulysses would suffer the disappearance of, first, the star athlete and then, thirteen years later, his entire team?

Mr. Rose has also “redesigned” the physical book. For the once-brazen newspaper headlines in “Aeolus,” which Joyce insisted be so prominent, we find the smallest type size ever used for the headings. “Oxen of the Sun,” the fourteenth chapter, is now broken into fourteen sections. Whether this is Joyce’s numerology or Mr. Rose’s, the editor never says. In “Circe” Joyce’s personal style of centering the names of each speaker with ample white space above and below is dispensed with, shortening the chapter by forty pages. (Just enough to make room for the second, redundant “Penelope.”) Mr. Rose’s bold type, moved to the left, leaps off the page in “Circe,” contrasting with the excessively diminutive type used for Joyce’s once-blaring headings in “Aeolus.” Separating Joycean compounds into two or three words breaks up the page and Mr. Rose’s new hyphens and swarming capitals give the Reader’s Edition a counter-Joycean granularity.

Before we meet stately, plump Buck Mulligan, a daunting eighty-page block of prefatory matter confronts the reader. After a Preface by Mr. Rose, the Table of Contents lists his Introduction, itself broken into three parts, one with three subparts, footnotes, also in three parts, plus the “Technical Appendix: an isotext,” a discussion of Mr. Rose’s novel techniques. (An isotext is “a blending together of the members of a series or complex of texts.”) The Reader’s Edition‘s prelude alone will intimidate all but the professional textologist or software engineer.

In advertisements Mr. Rose claims to have made “the most comprehensive analysis of the manuscripts ever undertaken.” He told The Bookseller that “no edition up to now has been based on a proper knowledge of what the manuscript is.” No articles reporting his theories about Joyce’s manuscripts have emerged from Mr. Rose’s five years’ labor in secreto, but the jacket announces a “forthcoming” book on Ulysses in Genesis. Is this not backward? There is no evidence inside the edition that Mr. Rose has actually seen the principal documents of Ulysses. Has he, like Hans Walter Gabler, been fooled by facsimiles? Has Mr. Rose, as he should have, consulted the originals and collated his as yet unseen “isotext” word by word against them? Not on the evidence of this edition.

Meanwhile, odd practices at the James Joyce Quarterly exacerbate the threat to Ulysses. The de facto journal of record for Joyceans, this publication, issued at the University of Tulsa, has repeatedly assigned reviews of Ulysses projects to the creators themselves (most have graced the Joyce Quarterly‘s editorial board for years). The 1984 Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition bore on its double title page the names of Michael Groden, Danis Rose, and his brother John O’Hanlon, alongside Hans Walter Gabler and his German graduate students. The James Joyce Quarterly then asked Groden to review the Ulysses he helped make. Years earlier, Groden had written for the Joyce Quarterly a lengthy panegyric explaining the Gabler project: numerous examples were recycled for his “review” of work in which he collaborated. Eventually Groden reviewed Danis Rose’s first Ulysses publication, The Lost Notebook, whose Introduction was by Gabler. To close the circle, Gabler reviewed Rose’s Textual Diaries of James Joyce and has now been assigned to review Rose’s Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition. All this gives new meaning to the words “peer review.”

The Joyce Quarterly review of the 1988 Inquiry into “Ulysses: The Corrected Text” by the present writer, the only monograph criticizing the Gabler-Groden-Rose-et-al. Ulysses, predictably fell to Groden. He was not pleased—so displeased, in fact, that he later distilled his Joyce Quarterly defense in an Afterword to the latest paperback printings of the American Gabler Ulysses. There he reduces the hundreds of documented factual errors and omissions to the claim that the Inquiry‘s sixty pages of tables, charts, and appendices yield “only two” slips by Gabler. (This startling calculus is found in printings recently stripped of the subtitle The Corrected Text and called simply The Gabler Edition.)

These self-reviews (and self-defenses) will likely persist. Like Michael Groden, Robert Spoo, editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, did doctoral work at Princeton with perhaps the most eminent collaborator named on the title page of Gabler’s 1984 Ulysses, Eng-lish Chairman A. Walton Litz. David Lodge’s novel skewering academic inbreeding bears a telling title: the Joyce industry is truly a Small World, with Messrs. Rose & Gabler snugly lodged within it.

In the text he wrote for the Picador marketeers, Mr. Rose claimed that “The Reader’s Edition liberates the text from the prison of its early publishing history.” On the first page of Ulysses, Buck Mulligan has the answer to this historic breakout of error: “Back to barracks!”

Letters

Making the Wrong Joyce’: An Exchange January 15, 1998

The Right Slogger October 9, 1997

The Scandal of Ulysses’ October 27, 1988

  1. *

    3 volumes, Garland, 1984.

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