This volume of Joyce Studies Annual is our tenth, marking a full decade of yearly publication since our acquisition of the journal from the University of Texas in 2007. During this period, JSA has published 120 articles, notes, interviews, reviews, and works of visual art, covering 2,800 pages. We’re grateful to Fordham University Press for its continuing support, and to the members of our advisory board for their generous readings and invaluable advice. Like its predecessors, the 2016 volume reflects our guiding mission by bringing together Joyce scholarship that covers a wonderfully eclectic range of critical trajectories, from genetic studies to psychoanalytic, disability, and queer inquiries.
As we reflect on a decade of scholarship, the volume fittingly begins with Morton Levitt’s retrospective essay, a personal narrative in which he traces the rise and development of pedagogy, criticism, and symposia devoted to Joyce over the past sixty years. An “unreconstructed New Critic” and a distinguished scholar of his generation, Levitt titles his article “My Life in Joyce Studies, Such as It Is” and begins by observing, “I have never thought of myself as a Joycean.” Despite his disarming modesty, Levitt’s wide-ranging books and articles have helped to establish Joyce’s central place in the Modernist canon and enriched our understanding of Bloom’s Jewishness as “central to Joyce’s vision of the world.” Indeed, Levitt holds that in writing Ulysses Joyce “converted himself” to produce “the first modern Jewish novel.” Recalling his initial encounter with Joyce’s fiction as an undergraduate in the mid-1950s, Levitt describes a time in American academic history when the Irish writer was often stigmatized as a “fraud,” derided as a “nasty little joke,” or dismissed as unreadable. However, as a young professor attending conferences in Dublin, Trieste, and Paris, Levitt discovered what he terms the “unique humanity” of the Joycean scholarly community—a pervasive camaraderie [End Page ix] in which “dinners and drinks and walks” proved as meaningful as formal papers. Evoking these gatherings, he offers vivid portraits of legendary critics, including Bernard Benstock, Fritz Senn, Thomas Staley, and Zack Bowen, while also describing participatory visits by such luminaries as Gershom Scholem, Jacques Lacan, Leslie Fiedler, Norman Mailer, and the “extraordinary” Baroness d’Aubigne. Levitt’s “expanding Joycean connections” led him to numerous teaching and traveling opportunities across Europe in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, culminating in an international course that he organized in Dubrovnik in 2004 to celebrate the city’s survival of the Yugoslav civil wars. Looking back on his career, Levitt ultimately acknowledges that he could have titled the essay “My Life as a Joycean,” a judgment borne out by his seminal work on Joyce’s innovations in narrative point of view, as well as his relations to modern visual art, mythopoesis, the Midrash, and other twentieth-century writers ranging from Proust and Kafka to Kazantzakis and Fuentes.
Four of the essays in the volume offer new perspectives on the composition and reception of Finnegans Wake. Focusing on Joyce’s conflation of anthropology, paleontology, and archeology, Kimberly Devlin explores Joyce’s excavation of “the passed/past”—particularly the sources of language—in his “meanderthalltale.” She argues that Joyce drew extensively on Edward Clodd’s The Story of the Alphabet, embracing the author’s vision of “relics as a form of trash” and his discovery of runes in the ruins. By linking “litter with letters” throughout the Wake, Joyce writes his own version of alphabetic pre-history. Conducting this investigation in Mutt’s archeological tour of the Irish landscape, Joyce uncovers diverse and mingled linguistic remnants that reflect the Wake’s own multi-layered portmanteaux, its hybrid mingling of nationalities and idiolects in a verbal texture that Devlin aptly describes as “a happy fall of letters into a plethora of litters.” While Joyce treats written words as merely “the signatures of things—not things in themselves,” Devlin suggests that he regarded the originary form of language as “material substance,” as “stewed letters” submerged in the “muttheringpot” of the earth—literally, the bedrock of archeological digging, and, figuratively, the womb of the maternal ALP. In this regard, the Wake’s most important “subterranean...