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6 Revisiting the “Cyclops” Manuscripts, Part 1 Wandering in the Avant-texte “Ulysses” in Progress treats Joyce’s novel as a monument. Not unusually for a manuscript study from 1977, my book was researched and written in ignorance of anything that might be called “theory,” and its facts were gathered and presented as part of an argument that took for granted the unity of the published Ulysses and the secondary position of the prepublication documents in relation to the finished book. I didn’t feel much need to pay attention to the interpretation I was putting on the facts that I was presenting. As I became aware of critique génétique in the decades following the writing of my book, I grew curious about how the facts offered there and the evidence mounted to present the argument might look in view of the new and increasingly sophisticated approaches to manuscripts that genetic criticism offered. In arguing that Joyce wrote Ulysses in three stages—early, middle, and last—“Ulysses” in Progress adopted a resolutely teleological model of Joyce’s writing. I subordinated Joyce’s writing to the finished work and assumed that “once he finished the book . . . the tasks of interpreting and assessing the complete book necessarily take precedence over any questions about the methods of composition.” I also argued, though, that “Joyce’s book was composed in ways so idiosyncratic as to be interesting in themselves” and that “the processes by which he wrote the book cannot be separated from other aspects of its meaning.”1 I took for granted that a literary work was characterized, even defined, by unity, even if Ulysses itself caused a lot of problems for this assumption, and 106 Ulysses in Focus I glossed over the difficulties in bringing my three statements together into one argument. Instead, I argued that the radical dichotomies within Ulysses could be reclaimed for a unified concept of the book within such formulations as “a ‘both/and’ approach which seems to me the most fruitful critical one to Ulysses” and “the most valuable [responses to one-sided readings of Ulysses] have been attempts to incorporate both the human drama and the symbolic structure into a unified theory of the book.” And I assumed that a history of Joyce’s composition of the book would reveal the ultimate unity coming into being, even if unity meant “a multiple or ambiguous combination ” of opposed tendencies. The suggestion of a middle stage of composition between the early and late ones was designed to show a gradual, evolutionary procedure rather than an abrupt, radical break, but my metaphors of palimpsest and superimposition were offered in the service of a view of the book as a unity, even if a complex one.2 Needless to say, conceptions of a literary work changed drastically around the time I wrote “Ulysses” in Progress. Roland Barthes, for one, traced a path “from work to text”: “the work is a fragment of substance, it occupies a portion of the spaces of books (for example, in a library). The Text is a methodological field. . . . the work is held in the hand, the text is held in language . . . . the Text is experienced only in an activity, in a production.”3 Formulations such as Barthes’s emphasize openness, splits, and fissures, anything but closure and unity. The text’s methodological field, or “network,” includes other texts, whether these are preexisting texts—“influences” or “sources” in other contexts but here called “intertexts”—or, specifically for the purposes of genetic criticism, the avant-texte, the text’s own past.4 The old terms “prepublication documents” and “finished work” are usefully superseded by “avant-texte” and “text,” and the sense of a teleological movement from early stages to finished product can be replaced at least provisionally by one of a mobile textual field that extends backward and forward between avant-texte and text. Thus, for Hans Walter Gabler, genetic criticism is “concerned with the différence of all writing as it materializes in variants and in the advancing and receding of textual states.”5 Seen in this way the process need not be interpreted as heading toward “one great goal,” as Garrett Deasy in “Nestor” claims all history tends to do (U 2:381), and the published text can be reconceived as a provisional central point, a “caesura” in the line of writing.6 ■ Revisiting the “Cyclops” Manuscripts, Part 1 107 The Ulysses avant-texte, and especially that of the “Cyclops” episode, offers a...


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