- The Winds of Aeolus: In the Heart of the Joyce Metropolis 1
With “the sanguine credulity of youth,” to recall Ruskin, I started the James Joyce Quarterly, two years out of graduate school, my second year in the profession. I was twenty-seven, thirty-six years ago, in 1963. Ia his recent book, Our Joyce, which among other topics traces the evolution of Joyce scholarhip, Joseph Kelly captured very well my early efforts to launch JJQ:
“Staley’s initial plans for the Quarterly had been modest. In an undated form letter—probably circulated in January 1963—he made the first announcement of his intentions. The text of the circular, printed under the title ‘A JAMES JOYCE QUARTERLY,’ seems, in retrospect, to have been amazingly unambitious:
“‘Professor Thomas F. Staley, of the University of Tulsa, is planning the publication of a general Joyce Newsletter, to appear quarterly. The main aim of the Quarterly would be to publish short notes and to keep readers in touch with the general progress of scholarship in the Joycean field.’
““The address that concludes the note was Staley’s home in Tulsa, which indicates the almost naive simplicity with which he undertook the project. Originally he conceived it as a hobby, which he pursued for the enjoyment of the Work and of the people he met, and the first issues, published out of Staley’s garage, were (despite their high quality) the product of a cottage industry.
“No one familiar with the dissolution of the James Joyce Review could have predicted the enthusiasm and support that greeted Staley’s circular.”
Kelly is absolutely right to conclude that the initial support for the JJQ was little short of spectacular. The responses that greeted my proposal from Joyce scholars around the world was spontaneous and generous. I remember the excitement the encouraging letters from Clive Hart, Dick Kain, Harry Levin, and many other distinguished Joyce scholars created. These were critics whose works I had read and admired—scholars with whom I was now sharing plans about the world of Joyce studies. [End Page 199]
One protocol, it seems, for reflection of this kind is to recall the many changes that have come about over the years, and remember them too fondly. But some issues in the Joyce field never seem to change; for example, the never-ending textual controversy regarding Ulysses. I am amused to read one comment I made in the first of my one hundred “Notes and Comments” columns in JJQ. I had written to Albert Erksine, the Executive Editor of Random House, asking him about the pagination changes in Ulysses in the reset 1961 edition. I quoted his response: “We simply sent the new Bodley Head edition to the printer and checked doubtful points against the Odyssey Press edition.” A rather bland reply from this great editor given the heat Random House was taking.
Only a few readers may now recall the groundswell of controversy that arose when Random House reset the text in 1961 with the intention of correcting errors. The editors did make “corrections” and some of them were, not surprisingly, controversial, but they also introduced new misprints. The major controversy came from professors all over the United States who were outraged that in resetting the text, the Random House typesetters changed the pagination, thoroughly confusing the notes and annotations of professors’ copies of Ulysses, but more importantly, throwing off critical references to all the published works on the subject. This was yet another in the protracted series of fiascos associated with the text of Ulysses. Random House had not yet realized the hold that the academic community had on Ulysses and thus its potential sales. This was the kind of miscalculation the firm was to make again nearly thirty years later.
One would think that in the days of photo-offset printing new errors could not be introduced very easily, but with the text of Ulysses anything can happen, and usually did. In June 1990 Random House, shaking off the Gablerian-Kiddian wars, issued what they named the “First Vintage International Edition,” announcing it as “the complete and unabridged text, as corrected and reset in 1961.” Re-introducing...