In James Joyce and Sexuality Richard Brown complains that Joyce criticism has "tried to account for [sexual] items in Joyce's texts through an investigation of their similarity to events in his life" rather than "to ask questions about the relevance of such items to contemporary issues and to a contemporary reading public." Dr. Brown's task in the book consequently becomes a systematic examination of views of sexuality that Joyce is likely to have encountered from youth to the maturity that culminated in the completion of Finnegans Wake at the end of the Thirties. Sexuality is broadly defined in the study so that such divergent topics as abnormal sexual behavior, feminism, prostitution, cuckoldry, sexual differences, the "doll's house" syndrome, Freud, and Havelock Ellis are looked at as potential shapers of Joyce's being and of his art.
Brown is fortunate in having access to lists of the books in Joyce's personal libraries at various times during his life and, often, to the annotated books themselves. Joyce's notebooks and letters are also helpful in establishing what he owed to new sexual attitudes or modern views on emerging roles of women. In employing these various source materials, Dr. Brown is not content merely to demonstrate the forces acting on the artist; he goes further to apply sensitively what he finds to a critical study of Joyce's poetry, drama, and fiction that provides an original focus.
For a richer understanding of Joyce's own background, as well as the ideological grounding of his most important fictional characters, the job is well worth doing. Indeed, one of the problems of this short study is the embarrassingly large pool of germane materials on sexuality available to the scholar: from Krafft-Ebing to Ibsen, from Oscar Wilde to George Moore, from Renan to Leo Taxil, from William Acton to Nietzsche. The result is that Brown often is so inundated by scientific and philosophical references that he has room for merely the briefest mention of what seems to the student of Joyce to deserve more detailed consideration. The book at such points becomes a jumping-off place for investigation (as [End Page 308] the author probably intended) rather than the definitive treatment one might wish—a kind of intelligently and extensively annotated bibliography. When Dr. Brown does slow down to expand on a topic, as he does with Joyce's view of marriage and adultery in Exiles and Ulysses, the reader finds his former view of the subject liberally widened by what Brown has to contribute.
The Hans Walter Gabler edition of the definitive text of Ulysses now has its own Handlist to James Joyce's "Ulysses": A Complete Alphabetical Index to the Critical Text, a research tool that does for the new version what Miles Hanley's Word Index to James Joyce's "Ulysses" did in 1937 for the Random House edition. Compiled by Wolfhard Steppe and Gabler himself, the Handlist needs less a review than publicity announcing its availability. The new computerized reference work, a large and impressively bound volume, differs somewhat from Hanley's book. A reading of the Introductions to each index reveals how far technology has advanced from the talk of index card tabulation in 1937 to the automatic alphabetization by computer in 1985. The more recent work lists the location of all the words in Ulysses, even definite and indefinite articles and words such as "that." It identifies each word by volume, by the episode in which the word appears, and by the specific numbered line in the Gabler text on which the word may be found. There are other deviations from Hanley's procedure, most of them the result of advances in the use of computerized data.
It is hard to imagine serious scholarly use of the new Critical Reading Text without recourse to the Handlist now so conveniently available.