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8 Mobile Pages Ulysses in Print and on a Screen Leopold Bloom has just received a tantalizing letter from Martha Clifford, and you are looking at it along with him. You have read about fifteen sentences before you come to two—“Please write me a long letter and tell me more. Remember if you do not I”—one a complete sentence and one a fragment. If you have a paperback version of Hans Walter Gabler’s edition of Ulysses in your hands, you will have to hold your breath and turn the page to learn that Martha has told Bloom that she “will punish” him (U 5:251–52). Martha typed her letter on one side of a sheet of paper, so Bloom was able to receive this pleasurable threat with less effort, but with less suspense. About half the printed editions of Ulysses will make you move to a new page at some point in Martha’s letter, usually with a less dramatic break than in the Gabler edition. In the others, the vagaries of the font and page size permit the letter to fit on one page. But what if you are reading Ulysses on a computer screen? The text might be presented in a way that retains printed page units, so you would see a replication of one of the printed editions, with the letter either intact or divided. Or the letter might be broken up into screen-sized units, maybe fifteen or twenty lines per screen. It might just fit onto one screen, but more likely it would be divided between two. As a third possibility, it might be part of a long scrolling text comprising all of “Lotus Eaters,” the episode in which it appears, or even all of Ulysses, and it would fit on one screen or not depending on which line of the text you positioned at the top. As a fourth alternative , you might be able to change the size and maybe also the font to suit your preferences, so the letter would fit on one screen or not, depending on how big you decided the text should be. Ulysses in Print and on a Screen 145 In Ulysses Bloom holds a physical document that was typed in a particular font with determinable spacing and margins and on paper of a certain size and thickness. The novel doesn’t specify any of these particulars, just the facts that Martha typed the envelope and the letter (U 5:61, 17:1841), pinned a flower to the paper—presumably in response to the name Henry Flower, Bloom’s nom de plume in his letters to her (U 5:239)—and made several typos and grammatical mistakes that tickle Bloom, such as “I called you naughty boy because I do not like that other world,” “you know what I will do to you, you naughty boy, if you do not wrote,” and “do not deny my request before my patience are exhausted” (U 5:244–45, 5:252–53, 5:253–54). The letter ’s text has been transmitted through all the editions of Ulysses (sometimes imperfectly, as some editions, thinking that Martha’s typos were Joyce’s, corrected them) and will live on in future editions. But as a material object, a page, the letter will remain forever locked away in the drawer where Bloom stores it after he returns home (U 17:1840–42). If the text of a printed book is presented on a computer screen or on a digital reading device, should the page units, like the sheet of paper of Martha’s letter, simply disappear? Should they be retained, with scroll bars or some other device compensating for the smaller size of screens compared to pages, or with the original page breaks indicated by lines, bracketed numbers, or some other marker? Should the typography and other graphic features of a page be reproduced as a unit? Anyone engaged in a digital project that involves a text originally printed as a book needs to think about these issues, and such thoughts lead to intriguing questions about what pages mean and what the future of the page might be. Pages are especially vulnerable and problematic for a presentation of Ulysses in a digital format. Each edition of Ulysses offers different page units and paginations—does that eliminate the page as a meaningful unit? If the pages should be preserved in some way in the electronic presentation, how should they be retained, since...

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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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