In a sense, we have been waiting for this book ever since Gifford and Seidman published their first version ( Notes for Joyce: An Annotation of James Joyce's "Ulysses") in 1974. For we could immediately tell that, however valuable—even indispensable—that volume quickly became, it had its gaps and its problems. Grateful as we were, we were also ingrates and wanted perfection. It is no surprise that we still do not have it.
The dustjacket claims that this is a "substantially revised and expanded version" that incorporates "over 1,000 additions and corrections." Not all of the most important changes are in individual entries, actually; the present version is mucheasier to use than the previous one, which for some odd reason keyed its initial page references not to the 1961 Random House edition of the novel but to the 1934 edition, which by 1974 was rarely used or read. The new notes are keyed to the "Critical and Synoptic Edition" of Ulysses, edited by Hans Walter Gabler; however one feels about that edition, its line numbers make the present volume much more convenient, especially because the chapter and line number of a given passage are immediately followed by parentheses with the page and line number of the 1961 Random House edition as well. The maps of Dublin and the surrounding area are also vastly superior to those of the first version of this book: clearer and sparer.
Inevitably, however, the book must be judged on the quality and coverage of its annotations. A number of the notes in the revised edition are in fact new not merely because Gifford has remained alert (he took over the job entirely from his co-author Seidman) but because the Gabler edition has added some passages to the novel. Gifford's industriousness has not always been successful: for example, in "15.1838" (that is, chapter 15 [Circe], line 1838), the phrase new to the Gabler edition, "like Father Charles" in "Then perform a miracle like Father Charles," is simply annotated "significance unknown." [End Page 276]
There are examples, too, of notes that were needed in the first edition and that are still needed now: for 14.1523, users of Gifford's volume should be told (but are not) that the question being asked for Ban torn Lyons—"Wha gev ye thon colt?"—is who gave him the tip?—that is, on Throwaway. On the other hand, the revised edition does recognize that "been to barber" in 14.1509 refers partly to the fact that Lyons has shaved off his moustache, a point the earlier edition had missed.
Three examples from a single page of the old edition (p. 374) that needed correcting or expanding continue to have problems in the new one: 1.) the note for "Jollypoldy the rixdix doldy "(15.149) mentions that the phrasing is "a common form of child-rhyme play on names" but should probably also quote the example from Stephen Hero(p. 170), "Stephen the Reephen, the Rix-Dix Deephen"; 2.) "Beggar's bush" (15.171) refers not only to the village southeast of Dublin but also to a beggar's place to sleep (according to Partridge, to go home by Beggar's bush is to be ruined); and 3.) the note on "the hat trick" (15.195) still gives William York Tindall's name as Tyndall.
Yet for all such quibbles, Gifford's achievement remains a humbling one. Like so many readers of Joyce, I was indebted to the first version of Gifford's book for vast numbers of my markings in my own copy of Ulysses. Here we go again.