Danis Rose & John O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook: New Evidence on the Genesis of Ulysses, [with a] foreword by Hans Walter Gabler (Sussex: Split Pea Press 1989), xli, 49pp.

Commentary

Ulysses in Progress
‘Much critical attention has been brought to focus on the manifest change which affected the nature of Ulysses quite late in the course of its development: a change whereby Joyce phased out the so-called “initial style’ (whose best-known feature is the famous interior monologue of both Stephen and Bloom) and introduced in its stead the exploitation of “style” itself as an integral part of the narrative strategy: in other words, when the information was carried not in the content alone, but also in the form. Groden (1977), building on the pioneering work of Litz (1961), has qualified this bifurcation by introducing the notion of a transitional middle period (which, purely by chance, coincided with the writing of the middle episodes of the book: “Wandering Rocks” through “Oxen of the Sun”) intermediating the extremes of the “initial” and “final” styles. In this sense, Ulysses can be regarded as a mosaic bearing the visible imprint of its change in direction and intention in the years 1914 to 1922.’ [Cont.]

‘The three phases as defined by Groom can be approximately dated as 1914 to the end of 1918, 1919 to mid-1920, and mid-1920 to 1922. Little emphasis, on the other hand, has been put on an earlier, equally significant turning point in the genesis of Ulysses, which, like Groden’s transitions, is readily discernible in the published text: namely, at a certain point in the seven years of composing his epic Joyce ceased {xi} concentrating on fashioning a sequel to A Partrait of the Artist as a Young man (that the sequel was to be called “Ulysses” is neither here nor there) and began to write an essentially new and radically different book describing experiences and emotions, circumstances and reflections quite unknowable to the egocentric aesthete, Stephen Dedalus: a book no longer centred on this character’s reactions to his environment, but on those of a much mom credible, commonsensical, down-to-earth man-in-the-street going by the name of Leopold Bloom. The change, furthermore, was not so much a change in style as a radical transformation of worldview from intense, expectant and serious (almost neurotic) to resigned, comic and even affectionate. This transformation, we submit, took place in Zürich in 1917.’ [Quotes letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver of Oct. 1916; Letters, II, p.387: “I thank you also for your kind enquiry about the book I am writing. [...] It is called Ulysses and the action takes place in Dublin in 1904. I have almost finished the first part and have written out part of the middle and end.”]’ (Cont.)

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‘To understand what Joyce is referring to in this letter (“the book”) we must go back to the very beginnings of Ulysses. While living in Rome in 1906, Joyce had entertained the notion of penning a short story to be called “Ulysses” (since a child he had greatly admired Homer’s wily seafarer) to be based on an incident which befell him two years earlier, when a putative Dublin Jew (Alfred H. Hunter) had picked him up inebriated out of a gutter somewhere in the metropolis and in orthodox Samaritan fashion had taken him home with him and generally bucked him up somewhat with a restorative cup of cocoa or whatever. A striking feature of this seemingly unremarkable incident is that it exhibits on the surface only the very flimsiest connection with any theme in Homer’s Odyssey. Similarly, when in 1914 he began to write Ulysses as a “sequel” to Portrait, he appears to have intended only a vague, symbolic connection with the Odyssey, In “Telemachus”, for example, we can view Stephen acting out an intellectual Telemachus, though with a few waxed feathers still adhering to him, while his mother May Dedalus (or is it the Muse?) plays a not very convincing Penelope, with Mulligan and Haines constituting the baleful suitors. Ithaka, of course, would in this scenario be represented by the Martello Tower at Sandycove. It should seem, then, that in the beginning Joyce was experimenting with a very different and lukewarm sort of correspondence with the Homeric prototype than that one which eventually came to dominate and shape the book.’ [Cites a letter from Weaver’s solicitors putting him in possession of a grant of £200.] (Cont.)

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‘Much of what we have come to know and love about Ulysses, we contend, has its source in that happy event. In changed circumstnces, then, and encouraged by his realisation through his studies that the Homeric myths could be viewed as concernring real men in real times, Joyce began to prepare himself to reconstruct the real Dublin on a real day - Thursday, 16th June, 1904 - and for this purpose he began to assemple specific material relating to that day and to the everyday language spoken on the streets at that time. What he wished to create was a world for Leopold Bloom live in, a world quite unlike that melancholy limbo inhabited by Stephen. In this task, Ulysses notebook VI.D.7 played a pivotal role.’ (xi-xiii).

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‘When he came to reshape Stephen Hero as Portrait, the “autobiographical” scenario must have caused him considerable difficulty. The period in question, after all, included the death of his mother and within the tight structure of Portrait he could not satisfactorily accommodate this. In the first place, such a traumatic event would have introduced a violent tangency to the otherwise gradual spiritual development of his here and, secondly, it might have adumbrated a more contingent and mundane, and less volitional and bohemian, reason for Stephen’s eventual flight to Paris. His initial solution was not, we suggest, simply to end Portrait on the eve of his first departure for Paris, but rather to backdate all the events he had intended for Stephen Hero to the period before the death of his mother, accordingly projecting this into the unactualized future. This would explain the telescoping of the events of his University College career into what can be conceived of as a single year and explain why, in any version of Portrait, Stephen should have been allowed to be in Paris in February 1902. Finally, it sheds some light on an abandoned (though cannibalised) fragment of Portrait now in the British Library (Add MS 49975; reproduced in J[ames] J[oyce] A[rchive], 10, pp.1,219-22).’ (Rose & O’Hanlon, op. cit., p.xvi.)

[The authors describe Add MS 49975 as a fragment of drafted episodes which postdate Chapter V of A Portrait as it ‘now stands’, citing an episode in it which prefigures the scenario in the Martello Tower in Ulysses - viz., “Dedalus, we must retire to the tower, you and I. [Let us go then!] Our lives are precious. I’ll try to touch the aunt. We are the super-artists. Dedalus and Doherty have left Ireland for the Omphalos.’ From this they infer that Joyce intended to shift the Gogarty-Towe episode to the period preceding the death of his mother, and that, when Joyce abandoned this draft and concluded the Portrait before the event that it describes, only to use it later at the opening of Ulysses, he clearly thought of the latter as a sequel to the former: ‘He would cut off Portrait early [...], re-use the abandoned material [...] and, by a deft stroke, kill of the mother in the interregnum between books. Further: ‘It is reasonable to asume that Joyce, as soon as he had decided upon Ulysses, intended to place the events of the book in 1904, the true “autobiographical” year, though of course the precise date ned not have been June 16. The compression into a sinlge year of Stephen’s University College career in Chapter V remained, and this necessitated a long interval to pass before the action of the sequel commenced; action, moreover, which had at least sin part been planned (and perhaps drafted) as a direct continuation of the events of Portrait.’ (p.xvii.) [Cont.]

What then are we to make of the 1901 ending of the earlier novel? Did Joyce surreptitiously move forward the close from 1901 to 1902, to 1903 or to 1904? [Cites Hugh Kenner’s analysis:] The diary entries at the close of Chapter V of Portrait cannot refer to 1902 because in that year the March 30 talk on the Library porch would have taken place on Easter Sunday when the building would have been closed to the public [Kenner, 1980]. Although Kenner ruled out 1901 on other grounds, a similar argument against it can be adduced: on March 24 Stephen is described as crossing ‘his’ green and entering the Library. In 1901 this day fell on a Sunday; but the Library was closed every Sunday. On these and other grounds not quite so clearcut, Kenner and (after him) Gabler have concluded with unquestioning faith in Joyce that the close of Portrait must logically be 1903. But there is more. The diary entry for April 3 describes Stephen encountering his friend Davin wielding a hurley stick on his way to a ‘meeting’. Meetings of the Gaelic Athletic Association were at the time by tradition (as Joyce would have been aware) held on a Sunday, the Lord’s day being the sole day in the week on which Irish workingmen and their agricultural brethren had time for toeing up muck in playing-fields. The only possible contending year in which April 3 fell on a Sunday is 1904. Thus, if the calendar argument has any merit, it implies that Joyce moved forward the close of Portrait not to 1903, but to 1904; and, accordingly, to within months of the action of Ulysses. Furthermore, as Kenner notes, the diary entries span a ‘canonical’ period of 40 days. This is hardly casually so. Yet March 20, the date of the first entry, occurring as it does prior to the Spring Solstice, could in no year have been Easter Sunday. A straightforward and tidy Easter Sunday-Ascension Thursday pattern is therefore ruled out. Nevertheless, the impression of a canonical or Paschal interlude persists. If this is intentional, then at the very least March 20 should fall on a Sunday; and this, again, occurred only in one contending year. 1904. 20th March, 1904, moreover, was Passion Sunday, the 40th day in Lent and the first day of that period set aside, according to the Catholic Missal, for the ‘Contemplation of the Man of Sorrows’ - altogether a most agreeable and appropriate date. Finally, to clinch the argument, there is the suggestion of a Joycean ‘cork-frame’ touch in the propinquity of the ‘Dublin, 1904’ dateline immediately below the last diary entry.’ (p.xvii.)

In the ensuing paragraph Rose and O’Hanlon argue that the indication of the week-day, Thursday, in Ulysses, is countermanded by other clues such as the ‘half-day’ for hockey at Mr Deasy’s school, pay-day for the milkwoman, and - finally - the fact that 8 October, Joyce’s ‘the day of my espousals’ (being the date on which he left Ireland with Nora), was the original day intended for the narrative rather than 16th June, which has known to be the day when Joyce first went out (and something more) with Nora - and which has passed into Joycean tradition as the absolute rationale of the date of Bloosday. (See Rose and O’Hanlon, op. cit., p.xviii.) In the next paragraph, the entertain the idea that the date 8 Oct., on which Joyce and Nora left Ireland, is also the date on which Wells shouldered Stephen into a ditch at Clongowes: 8 Oct. 1891 - indicated a being the 77th day before Christmas. They add: ‘[A]t some subsequent date Joyce chose (re-chose?) a midsummer day for Ulysses, in the process wreaking havoc (never fully repaired) on the time-mesh of the two books.’ In summarising, the authors mention that Ellmann’s thesis the 16th June was the day that Joyce and Nora first went walking has never been proven - but that it was a Thursday, and that Joyce himself was born on a Thursday and was shouldered into a ditch on a Thursday by Wells - incidentally two days after Parnell’s coffin returned to Ireland, to be buried on Oct. 11th, when Stephen recovers from his ditch-induced fever. (See op. cit., p.xix.)

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