Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE SCANDAL OF ULYSSES by Bruce Arnold

THE SCANDAL OF ULYSSES

The Sensational Life of a Twentieth-Century Masterpiece

By Bruce Arnold

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-08288-6
Publisher: St. Martin's

 The amazing printing history of James Joyce's Ulysses and its editorial disasters. Novelist Arnold (Running to Paradise, 1983, etc.) does a fine job of setting before us the horrors of getting a true version of Ulysses into print--which apparently hasn't happened yet. Though much of Arnold's material repeats itself, the repetition is all part of the disaster bred by Joyce himself and recently complicated by the three-volume Hans Walter Gabler critical edition (1984) and Gabler's one-volume Ulysses: The Corrected Text (1986), both of which caused a mudfest among Joyceans. While writing the novel in Paris (1914-21), Joyce sold individual chapters to American collectors. Those chapters also acted as the texts for first publication in The Little Review. The chapters, which bore Joyce's corrections, were never returned to him, while his own carbons had not been corrected. When The Egoist Press printed Ulysses, Joyce made entirely new corrections inconsistent with the already published chapters, which he could not get hold of, and meanwhile added nearly a third to the novel's bulk on his galley proofs. Joyce, who was going blind, was a poor editor and even embroidered imaginatively on his Paris printer's errors, thus establishing a first edition not only aswim with errors and gaga sentences but also wildly inconsistent with his own manuscripts. Moreover, when Joyce began Finnegan's Wake, he lost interest in correcting Ulysses. Joyce did help in the French translation of Ulysses, which sometimes helps to make sense of his English. When Gabler came along to establish a corrected text, however, he threw out the first edition, assembled only manuscripts, corrupt magazine versions, etc., and intuitively put together a still newer Ulysses that has incensed Joyceans. But the problems are infinitely more complicated than this. Essential.