- Serial Encounters: Ulysses and The Little Review by Clare Hutton
We know Ulysses as a lengthy book, published in 1922 and then in numerous differing editions thereafter. Its bulky unity contributes to the sense of its monumental quality, an item designed to enter the modernist canon. Yet its first readers knew it as a serial: sections of text appearing alongside other items in a magazine. The first episode, nineteen pages long, opened the Little Review of March 1918. A small number of episodes were also published in the London-based Egoist magazine in 1919, but this venture was more halting, while the Little Review, once of Chicago and now of New York, steamed ahead. Later, longer episodes were spread across multiple issues. Episode thirteen, “Nausicaa,” occupied three issues in mid-1920, and led to the magazine’s editors being tried for publishing obscene material in February 1921. Consequently, the book (that is, “volume,” rather than serial) publication of Ulysses was an unusual enterprise, a limited edition published in Paris.
The outlines of this story are familiar enough, but its critical consequences have taken time to be fully investigated. Critics have understandably focused on the volume publication and on the various, contested attempts to improve it—most notably Hans Walter Gabler’s in the mid-1980s. As Clare Hutton notes early on in Serial Encounters: “[U]ntil recent years readers have struggled to access this [magazine] version of Ulysses because original copies of the Little Review, printed on cheap and highly acidic paper, tend to be scarce, and only available in research libraries” (4). Yet, as she insists: “That a significantly different version of Ulysses was being published and read so long in advance of the work’s eventual completion is a fact of evident critical interest. After all, Ulysses as serialized in the Little Review is a text which Joyce consigned for publication, and not a manuscript which he might have thrown away” (4). This is a crucial rationale for Hutton’s book. Study of the Little Review text, she notes, has been abetted by the Modernist Journals Project’s publication of the entire run of the magazine online, and by the associated publication of The Little Review “Ulysses” by [End Page 853] Yale University Press in 2015, complete with valuable critical commentary. It is now far more feasible for any reader to assess the magazine text, typos and all; to compare it to the volume text; and to consider the place of Joyce’s writing amid the numerous other writings appearing alongside it in the magazine, and the cultural connotations that the Little Review might have lent to anything in its pages.
Such is Hutton’s mission in Serial Encounters. Given the importance of both Ulysses and the Little Review to the development of English-language modernism, their conjuncture is an important critical topic. Hutton cites extant considerations of it including essays by David Weir and Amanda Sigler, but no other critic has come close to the scale of her inquiry.1 Serial Encounters is the closest thing we may ever need to a comprehensive account of the relations between Joyce and the magazine, discussed through a series of distinct approaches.
Chapter one, “The World of the Little Review,” is an extensive account of the magazine itself: its locations in Chicago and New York; its shaky finances and appeals for support; its editors Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, their personalities and the shifting relationship between them; the political stances taken by the magazine in the context of the First World War; and its relations to significant contributors and influences such as Ezra Pound. The chapter also contains one of Hutton’s distinct archival discoveries, a four-page letter from Richard Aldington to Anderson describing his experiences fighting in the trenches (51–52). In a subsection called “Sample Copy,” Hutton takes the issues of September 1918 and July–August 1920 as case studies, situating Joyce’s contributions alongside others by W. B. Yeats and Djuna Barnes. These juxtapositions offer ways to imagine Joyce’s reception, in a...