Haveth Versions Everywhere

-or-

Here Comes Everybody's Edition(s) of Ulysses

 


© Daniel Klyn, 4/28/97. Last Updated 11/19/98.
Presented to Dr. Gordon Neavill, LIS 780, Wayne State University.


 

Table of Contents

Introduction
I.  The Corrected Text?
II. The Kidd Effect
III. Haveth Versions Everywhere
IV. Here Comes Everybody's Edition of Ulysses

 

 

~INTRODUCTION~

 

The first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses was published in Paris on February 2, 1922 by Shakespeare and Company ~ an English-language bookstore and lending library owned by a young American named Sylvia Beach. As a bookseller-proponent of Modern literature, Beach moved in circles and was familiar with many of the writers whose books appeared on her shelves. She met Joyce after his move to Paris in 1920, and soon thereafter learned that his new book, Ulysses, might not reach the shelves of any bookstore due to its supposedly obscene content and the strict laws forbidding publication of such material in both England and America. After seeking the advice of Parisian bookseller-turned-publisher Adrienne Monnier, Beach contracted with Joyce to bring the book out herself under the Shakespeare and Company imprint -- thereby circumventing English and American censors and ensuring the appearance of Joyce’s "great blue book" on the shelves of her shop. Exclusively.

Had the composition and publication circumstances embodied in the first edition been otherwise, the Shakespeare and Company text might still today occupy the preeminent position on the bookshop shelf that it did in 1922. As it happened, composition and publication circumstances combined to produce a decidedly faulty text in 1922 -- faulty to such an extent that Beach was compelled to dedicate an entire page of the first edition toward obtaining "the reader’s indulgence for typographical errors unavoidable in the exceptional circumstances." Joyce was himself well aware of the errors present in the first 1000 copies of his book, and in an undated letter to his wife (to whom he had inscribed the very first copy of Ulysses ), advised that:

 

 

"The edition you have is full of printers’ errors. Please read it in this. I cut the pages. There is a list of mistakes at the end."

(Ellmann, p. 540).

Errata lists compiled by the author were appended to initial printings and impressions of the Shakespeare and Company text, and were in later years incorporated into the text proper of editions published in England, Germany, and the United States. Inevitably, multiple resettings and multiple attempts to correct previous editions’ errors had the effect of introducing previously unseen batches of typographical and editorial mistakes at each turn. And while Joyce’s interest in correcting the text(s) of Ulysses lessened in proportion to the growing demands of his Work In Progress (a.k.a. Finnegans Wake), he continued to tinker with corrections through six distinct editions of the novel printed during his lifetime (Johnson, p. xlix).

Today, in the seventy-sixth year of the book’s existence, the text of Ulysses is arguably no better off than it was during Joyce's lifetime, despite two famous/notorious attempts to correct its many errors.

U.S. copyright on the text of  Ulysses is now under intense review,   potentially opening the way for publication of corrected or improved versions and editions of Ulysses .  

What I hope to do in the course of this paper is to prepare my reader for the impending onslaught of new versions and editions of Ulysses by way of an examination of the past few years’ Joyce-publishing phenomena in the UK and Canada -- where copyright on the first edition lapsed* in February of 1992 and where the "scandal" Hans Walter Gabler's "Corrected Text" has been played out among competing, non-copyrighted editions of the text .

*Recent EU trade and copyright agreements seem to have moved the text back into copyright protection

In reference to the lapsed-copyright extravaganza of competing versions in the UK and Canada, Michael Mason has observed that: 

"There has been a Darwinian struggle between editions of Ulysses {since the copyright lapse}, with fecund publishers heedlessly spawning new strains of the old book... Publishers have clearly overestimated how many editions of Ulysses the public will bear." (Mason, p.1)

 

Despite the text's return to copyright protection in the EU and UK, emerging legal opinions about copyright status in the U.S.A. would seem to suggest that new editions will continue to be issued -- at least in America -- whether in response to or in spite of consumer demand. By identifying extant and forthcoming editions in terms of their place within the historical genesis of the published text, and in relation to the larger debate over how and why the text should be edited, this document's purpose is not to arrive at an endorsement of an overall "best text,", but rather to serve as a guide for all readers as they seek to engage the text of what is arguably the single most significant work of fiction in the English Language.

Part I : The Corrected Text?

 ....

With the earnest hope of not overestimating how much re-hash of the past fifteen years’ debate over editing the text of  Ulysses my reader will bear,  I'd like to take a brief look back at what has become known as "The Joyce Wars."

Those interested in reviewing the totality of published comment regarding the aptness of Gabler’s three-volume Critical and Synoptic Edition of Ulysses ) and its trade-edition counterpart from Random House et. al. (the so-called "Corrected Text" ) will perhaps reconsider that interest upon discovery of the true extent of the relevant documents.

A quick flip through Gabler’s original foreword to the Critical and Synoptic Edition goes a long way toward explaining the heated tenor of the ensuing debate over Gabler's methods, theoretical orientation, and involvement with the Joyce estate and its copyright interests. Given the enduring scholarly interest in and readerly affection for Joyce’s famously error-ridden novel, it comes and must have come at the time as something of a shock to find Professor Gabler claiming that his edition would:

"replace the text made public in the book’s first printing and every subsequent printing since 1922."


Gabler qualified his assertion by stating that "the claim can only be as good as the critical scholarship on which it is based" ~ and with some of the most respected Joycean scholars' names appearing on the Critical and Synoptic Edition's double title page as advisors, the prima facie impression upon its publication was that Gabler's version would be (as Hugh Kenner’s jacket-blurb attests) "the pot of gold at the end of a 20th century scholar’s adventure."  

Part II: The Kidd Effect

From the benefit of hindsight, it is surprising that whole cadres of up-and-coming Joyce scholars were not climbing over one another in 1984 for a chance to critique the new edition and subject its lofty claims to the rigors of critical analysis -- especially in light of the early press coverage, which was substantial and overwhelmingly positive. As it happened, it took nearly four years of going at it alone before the reluctant queue started to form behind John Kidd, and his objections to Gabler's editions of the text.

Rather than recapitulate Kidd’s sometimes book-length analyses of the Gabler text, I will instead refer my reader back to Kidd’s article " The Scandal of Ulysses," which appeared in the June 30, 1988 issue of the New York Review of Books as a distillation of arguments first presented in an address to the Society for Textual Scholarship conference in April of 1985. Kidd’s post-doctoral work in text-critical bibliography at the University of Virginia in the early 1980s was focused primarily upon the 1922 first edition, but his working familiarity with all printed variations of the text was applied with full force in this sweeping critique. Taking up Gabler’s challenge to judge the edition by the quality of the scholarship upon which it was based, Kidd demonstrated that reliance upon facsimiles of the extant autograph manuscript and shoddy collation of significant compositional and transmissional documents produced a version which reported linguistic and bibliographical variants demonstrably unknown to Joyce and unsupported by examination of the actual manuscript materials. 

Kidd's conclusion in "The Scandal of Ulysses" was that "The Corrected Text" should be withdrawn from circulation, and that Random House should reissue its 1961 Modern Library edition in its place.

 

John Kidd’s accusations against the Gabler text(s) have been repeated and disputed ad nauseum on the J-joyce e-mail discussion list and in the popular press-- although one is challenged to find in the established Joyce literature any systematic attempt at verifying the sixty-plus pages of tables and charts detailing Gabler's errors.

The James Joyce Quarterly (journal of note in the field of Joyce studies and whose editorial board includes no fewer than five of the persons listed on the title page of Gabler's edition), for example, ignored Kidd's monograph in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America  entirely, and published Michael Groden's response to Kidd's PBSA piece instead without ever covering or reviewing Kidd's critique on its merits! 

 

.

Prof. John Kidd, Boston University

In any case, the specific validity (or invalidity) of Kidd's critique of the Gabler editions is not at issue here. Understanding the effect of Kidd's critique, however, is central to an overall understanding of the scholarly and political debate over the text of Ulysses which persists to the pressent day.

What today's reader is likely to miss when confronting multiple available editions of Ulysses is the fact that from the June 16, 1986 publication of "The Corrected Text" until June of 1990, all other versions of the novel were withdrawn from circulation worldwide. To this extent, Gabler's editions did indeed embody the definitive text of Ulysses -- but only by default.
Detractors have been loath to admit that were it not for Kidd's critique, the commercial hegemony enjoyed by the definitive-by-default text during the years 1986 - 1990 might persist to the present day. Indeed, what would be the value of re-issuing the old and uncorrected texts of Ulysses  if the Gabler editions could claim to replace every other extant version since 1922?

Kidd's campaign to prove that Gabler's text could and should not replace its predacessors may not have found any sympathetic ears at the JJQ, but Kidd was able to bend the ear of Jacob Epstein, who was at the time the Editorial Director for Random House -- Gabler's publisher in the USA.

In June of 1988, Epstein told the New York Times that the Gabler edition appeared to be "seriously flawed," and appointed a committee chaired by renown critical editor and textual scholar G. Thomas Tanselle to look into the question of whether or not Gabler's text should be withdrawn from publication.

Bruce Arnold's 1991 book-length study of the Joyce wars (entitled The Scandal of Ulysses)  describes the various intrigues of the Epstein/Tanselle inquiry into Gabler's text in a chapter entitled "The Committee That Never Met." Again, the specifics of the publisher's self-examination are not the interest of this paper -- what's critical to this discussion is the immediate effect of that Kidd-induced self-examination, which was the 1990 reissue by Random House subsidiary Vintage International of the "classic" 1961 version of Ulysses.

Professor Kidd has observed that:

"I won the Joyce wars when Penguin decided it wasn't worth having Gabler's name on their edition of Ulysses." (Davies, 1993)

As it occurs to me, Kidd won the American stage of the Joyce wars when Random House decided that readers could not be expected to accept its "definitive" edition as the replacement for all other previous versions of the text. Along with reissuing the 1961 text of Ulysses, Random House also set about the task of downgrading the Gabler text's cover-blurb from:

to the more modest:

 

A similar series of Gabler-text facelifts occurred at the same time in the UK and Canada, where news of the "scandal" (heralded primarily by Jeremy Treglown -- then-editor of the Times Literary Supplement) had the similar effect of spoiling the general reading public's taste for a so-called   "Corrected Text" of Ulysses.

Part III : Haveth Versions Everywhere

 

It is a shame that most library copies of the editions of Ulysses published between 1990 and the present will not provide the original dustjacket art or blurbs, because a survey of these metatexts conveys quite clearly the perceived legitimacy of Kidd's challenge to the supremacy of Gabler's text. In fact, the new texts spawned in the UK and Canada after copyright expiration have made variously clever attempts to cash-in on the controversy. Take, for example the cover of the UK/Canada Penguin "20th Century Classics" edition of the Gabler text:

This is presumably the edition Kidd refers to as having signaled his victory in the Joyce wars. Gabler's name has indeed been removed from the cover of the edition, and in its place hangs the famous posed photo of an eyepatched and dapper Joyce seated just below the legend "The Scandal of Ulysses."

The cover design is more than ironic -- substituting an image which emphasizes the relation of the edition to Kidd's headline-making critique for the name of its editor and the once-boldfaced tag "Corrected Text."

 

.

In a move somewhat less bold than that of Penguin in exploiting the negative publicity attracted by the text it publishes, Flamingo/Palladin made a small adjustment to the cover-art of its reprint of the 1960 Bodley Head text . The Flamingo edition which was pulled from the shelves in the definitive-by-default heyday of the Gabler "Corrected Text" was simply entitled :

Conscious of the market created by the "scandal" of the "Corrected Text" and the subsequent expiration of UK copyright, Flamingo subsidiary Palladin reissued its reissue of 1960 with a sub-title:

 

 

In contrast, Oxford University Press' edition of Ulysses seems to be the least forthcoming of the lot of post-copyright versions now available in acknowledgment of its debt to Kidd's critique. The front-cover is primarily pictorial, and it isn't until the middle of the last paragraph of text on the back cover that the edition locates itself within the larger textual debate by stating that:

"today critical interest centres on the authority of the text, and this edition republishes for the first time, without interference, the original 1922 text."

The Oxford University Press Website for the edition is more direct in its solicitation of reader interest via reference to the scandal of Ulysses. Mindful of the need to distinguish itself from among the proliferation of post-copyright reissues, the Website pronounces that the OUP edition is:

"the only edition available of the 1922 text Joyce proofread and approved for publication."

As for the book itself, Jeri Johnson's critical introduction provides its own lengthy discourse on the Joyce wars, and the complicated publication history of Ulysses in general. Somewhat surprisingly, Johnson endorses Gabler explicitly -- in spite of the seeming oddity of aligning the reissue of the 1922 text with the one text which claimed to replace all others. Mason has observed Johnson's unseemly endorsement of the Gabler text as being indicative of a shared sympathy with Gabler's attempt to establish a definitive text, and notes that

"if not a Gabler manqué, she [Johnson] is perhaps a would-be Gabler who has been deterred by the thornbushes into which the idea of a 'corrected text' ran ten years ago."

Johnson does, I should note, credit Kidd for having had the effect of "causing an entire generation of Joyceans to attend a little more carefully to the implications of textual bibliography" (Johnson, p. lv). While this is certainly the case, the statement stops far short of allowing what I hope to have shown thus far ~ that Kidd's critique (which Johnson elsewhere calls "kerfuffle" [p.lv]) has in fact created the market for reprint editions of Ulysses , and that this market is predicated upon a Kidd-inspired realization among both publishers and readers that all approaches to the text of Ulysses must be conducted with some degree of text-critical analysis.

Part IV: Here Comes Everybody's Edition

The previous section's examples may very well predict the near-future for America, and it remains to be seen whether publishers will proceed with the understanding that American readers will be less likely to buy a "Corrected/Gabler Text" which claims to replace all other versions than they are to buy a version which boasts of its lack of Gablerian correction.  In any case, editions new and old will soon be proliferating on the shelves of bookshops.

Given the range of extant editions available under similar circumstances in the UK, Mason has suggested that perhaps:

"the best means of experiencing the novel currently is by acquiring two of the available versions?" (Mason, p.1)

Mason's preference at the time of press was to select an edition of the 1961 text for reading purposes, and then to also acquire an edition with textual notes such as Johnson's for discerning important variant versions of given passages in the novel. This two-book method seems at present the best approach to reading Ulysses, although clumsy and potentially off-putting to first time readers. Recognizing the shortcomings of such an approach (which are many), and the unlikeliness of its being practiced by general readers, the need for "an utterly committed editing of an improved text" (ibid.) remains.

In fact, I would argue that the need is all the more urgent now than it was in the previous context (pre-Gabler) ~ especially at a point in the text's transmissional history where more versions will be available simultaneously than at any time before.

 

 

John Kidd's Dublin Edition of Ulysses has been listed in Forthcoming Books since 1992, but has yet to be released either in the US or abroad due to continuing confusion and dispute over copyright. The initial publication was supposed to have occurred 2 February 1992 in Dublin, Ireland ~ exactly 70 years after the publication of its first edition in Paris.

 

The edition is described in press release as "the ideal first edition," and promises to be "the first [version] based upon a survey of all physical forms of the book printed in Joyce's lifetime." G. Thomas Tanselle, Richard Finneran, and David Norris (of Trinity College, Dublin) have all been cited in support of Kidd's edition, and while the press release does boast at length about the quality of The Dublin Edition, it of course refrains from any claims of definiteness.

Danis Rose's just-published "Reader's Edition" of Ulysses takes a somewhat different approach toward editing an improved text of the novel -- an approach which seems strangely out of step with the "new-new bibliography" school he has been associated with since joining the Gabler editorial team in the early 80s. That "school," peopled by the likes of Jerome McGann, George Bornstein, and Hans Zeller, has de-emphasized the importance of the author's intentions when editing texts. So it comes as something of a surprise to find Rose explaining his edition thusly:

"Before now, no one has thought
to look at whether a particular
sentence made sense. Joyce
sought lucidity. He did not try to
make his work foggy and obscure.
Yet previous editions force the
reader to make textual decisions
throughout ... This text is cleaner, lighter and less threatening. It is meaningful rather than obscure and the nuances
there are those Joyce intended."

The initial press reaction to Rose's "Reader's Edition" has been mixed. Newspaper and magazine clippings responding to the edition can be read on-line at :

http://home.att.net/~fnord32/joycewars.html

The pre-publication promotional materials for the Rose edition boasted of its being based upon a "radical reappraisal of the history of Joyce's writing of Ulysses and of the documents which constitute the manuscript of the book." Because the record of the specific documents Rose used as the basis for his edition has not yet been made public, text-critical bibliographers and general readers alike have been largely unable to fully analyze the aptness of the Reader's Edition. When Rose's "isotext" is finally revealed, I will try to rewrite this section of the paper to include this important part of the textpuzzle which is Ulysses.

 

Michael Groden, editor of the James Joyce Archive facsimile series and advisor to the Gabler team which included Danis Rose praised a pre-press prospectus for the "Reader's Edition" as being:

"Bold and brilliant... confident and controversial."

The operating term for anyone publishing a new editions of Ulysses is "controversy." Rose's press release went so far as to guarantee "extensive media attention" to the book's premiere in 1996. Perhaps in the aftermath of the past and present Joyce wars, and all of the attention that these "wars" have drawn to text-critical bibliography, Mr. Joyce will have finally found a reading audience equal to the task of discovering what he wrote. Up until this point in the genesis of the text, the lion's share of critical attention has (for better or worse) been focused on discovering what Joyce meant.

This is my true hope, in light of an alternate and equally likely possibility that the scandal will overshadow the text, and that a proliferation of versions will stand as still another barrier between readers and Joyce's 'great blue book.' In any case I thank you for your indulgence of this lengthy digital headache, and any suggestions for its improvement can be sent by clicking right here.


©Daniel Klyn. Last updated June 6, 1998. Images reproduced without permission under the provisions of Fair Use. Thanks to the James Joyce Research Center , Boston University, for use of its collections in preparation for this paper.


 

~Works Cited~

 

Arnold. Bruce. (1991). The Scandal of Ulysses. St.Martin's Press: New York.

Benjamin, Walter. (1968). Illuminations(transl. H. Zohn). Schocken Books: New York.

Davies, John. (1993). "Kidd's craft in editing." The Times Higher Education

Supplement.February 12, p. 19.

Ellmann, Richard. (1977). James Joyce.New York: Oxford University Press.

Gabler, Hans Walter. (1984). Ulysses: A Critical And Synoptic Edition. Garland: New York.

Johnson, Jeri. (1993). From her introduction to the March 1997 World’s Classics

paperback edition of Ulysses. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kidd, John. (1988). "The Scandal of Ulysses." The New York Review of Books. June 30.

Mason, Michael. (1995). "Which Ulysses?"James Joyce Broadsheet, 42.


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