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Foreword The turn to autobiography, or “life-writing,” in academia has value only in proportion to the general conclusions that can be drawn from the particular narrative, and just as all young intellectual would-be artists can see themselves in Stephen Dedalus, so all budding Joyceans can see themselves in Michael Groden, who has had the Zelig-like ability to be involved in seemingly every great Joycean event of the past quarter-century. It was Michael Groden who as a graduate student was handed the keys to the Joycean kingdom in Grand Central Terminal, and his story of how he ended up as the primary editor of the sixty-three volumes of the Garland Archive, still the single greatest printed resource for any scholar of any writer, is itself worth the price of admission. It was Michael Groden who served on the front lines of the so-called Joyce Wars and lived to tell the tale; and again Michael Groden who was called in September 2001 to ask if he could help identify what are now known as the National Library of Ireland’s Joyce Papers 2002. Throughout the extraordinary story of his literary life, Groden keeps us grounded with a wry and self-deprecating wit: after his dissertation director tells him that his original idea for a thesis will never fly, Groden reports that “I spent about a month after that meeting lying in bed or sitting in a chair staring at a wall.” It is enormously reassuring, for instance, to come upon an admission by the general editor of the James Joyce Archive that “even after putting the reproductions together I can’t find specific passages in them.” And editors everywhere will rejoice to learn that only when the bound copies of the page proofs for “Oxen of the Sun” arrived at Garland Press did someone finally notice that the title page read “Oxen in the Sun.” We are in the witches’ kitchen, with the cauldron of Joyce’s Ulysses coming to a boil: as the text reaches its perfect state, Groden has equally valuable insights to share about the process by which a text is created. This book is three things: a record of the growth of Joyce studies from 1970 to the present, a record of the genesis of the field of genetic criticism, and a testament to the evolutionary development of a Joycean. And it is more than all of these: Groden reports his observations with such felicity that as much pleasure comes from the presentation of the material as from the material itself. Again and again, Groden takes well-known points and phrases from the Joycean canon and recasts them so that they are re-sorted and restored, reversed and re-served. Love is not so much the “word known to all men” but “the means by which the Word was made known to all men.” Stephen’s thoughts on history in “Nestor” (“But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass?”) become the first musings of a genetic critic. “The Parable of the Plums” is read as Stephen’s greatest work of art in the book, an anecdote which is itself a parable of the need for interpretation. Reading the section genetically, Groden calls attention to Professor MacHugh’s smile, which comes and goes in the drafts “like Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat’s grin.” Balanced by the headlines (“ANNE WIMBLES, FLO WANGLES”) and the parallel lines of motionless trolleys bound for or from points around Dublin, Stephen’s parable is memorably described as a “mobile,” in which Nelson’s Pillar and all that surrounds it are suspended for a moment in time. A mobile is a work of art that is “still, and still moving,” as Eliot says in Four Quartets: Michael Groden’s monumental work has the same kinetic facility. In its breathtaking attention to detail, it has the stillness of a violin; in its constant search for new dimensions of reading in Ulysses, it is a moving distillation of a lifetime’s devotion to Joyce. Sebastian D. G. Knowles x Foreword ...


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