Rationale of the Critical and Synoptic Edition, ed. Hans Walter Gabler (1984)

The “Critical and Synoptic Edition” of 1984, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, treats the total sum of corrections at all stages of the manuscript history as part of the genetic manuscript of Ulysses - an idea that presupposes he would have wished to retain all the corrections made to drafts and galleys at every stage in the process of writing.
 The resultant text embraces changes that appeared in fair copies, even if these stand outside the direct line of transmission to the Shakepeare & Co. Edition; the serialised episodes resulting from corrections made to the Little Review typescript; and, finally, those additions made by Joyce to the proofs provided by Darentière (the printer in Marseilles).
 In his “Afterword” to the 1984 Edition, Gabler argues that ‘since it was the act of making fair copies that gave the impulse to revise which carried forward [sic] into the last revision of the final working manuscripts, the whole process of revison was in truth continuous. Hence all recoverable changes it occasioned belong to the stage of the text’s development that the documents comprise, and thus ultimately to a validly revised text of Ulysses.’ (Ulysses [Corrected Edn.], Penguin 1984; p.648.)
 John Kidd and others disagreed with this inference and held instead that the text authorised by Joyce in 1936 - 100 of which he signed - should be regarded as the authentic version of the novel. Hence not the Corrected Text but the Bodley Head edition of 1960 brings bring us as near as possible to an authoritative Ulysses. All corrections made to the typescripts for The Little Review and abortive Egoist which stand outside the direct line of transmission are not, in this view, part of the authentic text however much interpretative light they may shed upon it. [1]
 A specific difficulty is raised for Joyce criticism by the fact that Gabler reinstated lines from a manuscript version of “Scylla and Charybdis” in which Stephen Dedalus speaks of ‘the word known to all men’ as ‘love’ - thus answering the question that he asks of his mother in the “Circe” chapter of the novel. <
 While Richard Ellmann lent his support to this revision/inclusion in a preface to the Critical Edition, he latter withdrew it in his contribution to the Princess Grace Irish Library “Assessing the 1984 Ulysses” Conference held in 1985 and whose transactions appeared in 1988.
 Further depositions from Philip Gaskell and Clive Hart (Ulysses: A Review of Three Texts, 1989) and Bruce Arnold (The Scandal of Ulysses, 1991) [2] - resulted in the general eclipse of Gabler’s Critical & Synoptic Edition in scholarly esteem though the page/line referencing embodied in it is universally used in Joycean publications today. [BS 2017.]


1. Kidd’s attack on Gabler reached a wide readership when it appeared as “The Scandal of Ulysses” in The New York Review of Books (30 June 1988) [see copy - attached]. His title was itself an echo of a famous poster for the contemporary issue of The Sporting Times (otherwise “The Pink Un’”) in which Ulysses is under the heading “The Scandal of Ulysses”.

‘The main contents of the book are enough to make a Hottentot sick […] not alone sordidly pornographic, but intensely dull.’
 In keeping with Joyce’s practice of enlisting the most hostile criticism as recommendations for his works, the poster was framed in Syvlia Beach’s bookshop Shakespeare & Co., and features in the background of a celebrated contemporary photograph of Joyce. Needless to say, Joyce echoed the review in Finnegans Wake also.

2. Bruce Arnold’s title echoes the damning article by Kidd which appeared in The New York Review of Books (30 June 1988) [as supra].

See also ‘The Strange Case of the Missing Joycean Scholar’, by Jack Hitt, in The New York Times Magazine (12 June 2018) - online.

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