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4 When First I Saw, Part 2 Discovering Joyce’s Manuscripts Looking back now at my first encounter with Ulysses in 1966, I can easily view it as a point of origin. Much of what has happened in my life since then stems from it, and I can draw a straight line from it through many subsequent events, including the writing of this book. But Jean Bellemin-Noël’s statement about the temporal paradox involved in genetic criticism—“We must never forget this paradox: what was written before and had, at first, no after, we meet only after, and this tempts us to supply a before in the sense of a priority, cause, or origin”—gives me pause.1 As an origin, my first response itself had many causes, only some of which can be grasped in retrospect. And while it may have set a certain set of events in motion, it was only the first of several discoveries, the first in a sequence of drafts. A second encounter, a second draft, dates from the summer of 1972 while I was in graduate school at Princeton University. Like my first reading of Ulysses, in some ways even more so, this event can stand at the start of what Daniel Ferrer calls “a kind of retrospective teleology.”2 The pattern seems clear when viewed from the perspective of the later events, the now, even if it seemed far from clear while the events were transpiring. If, as Ferrer claims, the “the final text [of a work] does not contain the whole of its genesis ,” neither does the present moment of a life: the product at any particular moment can be seen in relation to a much more complex process.3 Perhaps Stephen’s “I, I and I. I” (U 9:212) expresses this better than Bloom’s similar but not quite identical “Me. And me now” (U 8:917). The product and the process oscillate with earlier states, the monument of a life becoming a mobile. 70 Ulysses in Focus ■ After I read Ulysses in Peter Bien’s course at Dartmouth, I threw myself into my new career as an English major and, unusually for someone who has often second-guessed what he has done, never looked back on the discarded draft of life as a mathematician, the possibility that never came to pass. When Richard Cross offered a specialized seminar on Joyce’s works during my junior year, I eagerly enrolled in it and found reading Ulysses a second time to be as enjoyable and rewarding as before, even more so. During my senior year I decided to go to graduate school, and I applied only to departments that included Joyce scholars. Princeton, which satisfied my requirement as well as any department could, accepted me, and in my first term there I took a course with A. Walton Litz. I enjoyed being a graduate student, although for the first time I didn’t do particularly well in my classes. Despite this, Litz offered to supervise my dissertation , and I looked forward to eventually working with him. When the time came at the start of my third year, I decided to write a thesis on Joyce’s influence on subsequent novelists (as we formulated such a topic then), especially William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett, and began reading through their novels and some of the secondary materials on them. Halfway through the year, in January 1973, Joyce’s world came to life for me as I visited Dublin for the first time. Back in Princeton after that, I started writing the Faulkner chapter, which refused to come out. Every sentence, every word, was a struggle. In late May I finally finished a fifty-page chapter and gave it to Walt. About a week later, he asked me to stop by his office to talk with him about it. When I arrived, he was gathering up his books and briefcase in order to catch a plane later that day for England, where he would be spending the summer. He bypassed almost all his usual small talk to get quickly to my chapter. About twenty pages in it were good, he assured me, perhaps with some reworking even publishable, but the rest were weak. The evidence was often trivial; the paragraphs didn’t flow smoothly; the chapter lacked a convincing overview. He pointed to one paragraph, and I could see how my struggle with the material showed through on every line...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813036564
Related ISBN
9780813034980
MARC Record
OCLC
664428153
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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