Annotations to James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ 
by Sam Slote, Marc A. Mamigonian and John Turner.
Oxford, 1424 pp., £145, February 2022, 978 0 19 886458 5
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On​ 2 November 1921, James Joyce wrote from Paris to his aunt Josephine in Dublin asking if it was ‘possible for an ordinary person to climb over the area railings of No. 7 Eccles Street, either from the path or the steps, lower himself from the lowest part of the railings till his feet are within 2 feet or 3 off the ground and drop unhurt. I saw it done myself but by a man of rather athletic build.’

Joyce’s friend John Francis Byrne, on whom he based the character of Cranly in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, lived at 7 Eccles Street from 1908 to 1910. ‘In 1909, when Joyce was visiting Dublin,’ we are told on page 1144 of the new volume of annotations to Ulysses, ‘he returned with his friend J.F. Byrne late at night to Byrne’s house at 7 Eccles Street,’ only to find that Byrne had forgotten his key. In his memoirs, quoted here, Byrne wrote: ‘I simply climbed over the railing to the right of the hall door, dropped down to the front area, and went in to the basement of the house by the unlocked side door.’

The resident of 7 Eccles Street in Ulysses is Leopold Bloom, and he performs the same manoeuvre: ‘Resting his feet on the dwarf wall, he climbed over the area railings, compressed his hat on his head, grasped two points at the lower union of rails and stiles, lowered his body gradually by its length of five feet nine inches and a half to within two feet ten inches of the area pavement and allowed his body to move freely in space by separating himself from the railings and crouching in preparation for the impact of the fall.’

Since Aunt Josephine was unable to furnish him with the information he had requested, Joyce resorted to memory. He knew Byrne’s weight because on the evening when Byrne had scaled the railings of 7 Eccles Street, he and Joyce had both weighed themselves, ‘at Joyce’s suggestion, at a penny-in-the-slot weighing machine at a chemist on the corner of Frederick Street’. Since Joyce therefore knew that the railings could be safely negotiated by a man of Byrne’s weight and height, all he needed to do was to give Bloom, who had forgotten his key to that very same front door, ‘the same height and weight as Byrne in order to maintain verisimilitude’.

In his 1959 biography, Richard Ellmann reported that Joyce ‘often agreed with Vico that “imagination is nothing but the working over of what is remembered.”’ Ellmann also quotes Joyce’s remark to Frank Budgen: ‘Imagination is memory.’ Budgen, whom Joyce met in Zurich in 1918, records Joyce expressing his aim ‘to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book’. Thus, as Marjorie Howes writes in her essay in The Cambridge Companion to ‘Ulysses’, the book became famous for ‘its multitude of accurate references to real people, places and events around Dublin in 1904’. Ellmann wrote that ‘Joyce was too scrupulous a writer to tolerate even minor flaws.’

Annotations to James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ by Sam Slote, Marc Mamigonian and John Turner takes on board all the research and scholarship done since Don Gifford’s groundbreaking Notes for Joyce (1974, revised and republished in 1988 as Ulysses Annotated by Don Gifford with Robert J. Seidman). It shows Joyce as both systematic in his approach to fact and at times struggling, and often failing, in his effort to avoid error. And it makes clear that Ulysses has a mundane source book – Thom’s Directory – to match The Odyssey, its elevated one. (Bloom himself worked for Thom’s in the mid-1880s.) Part of the joy of Thom’s, an annually produced almanac, is that it lists who was living in each house in each street in Dublin in a given year. (In 1904, we find that 7 Eccles Street was vacant.) The critic Clive Hart, quoted here, writes that the Dublin of Ulysses was the one ‘remembered and coloured by [Joyce’s] own atypical personality’, but also ‘the Dublin … enshrined, embalmed in the pages of Thom’s – the official, statistical Dublin, the Dublin reduced to objective memory, to street lists, tradesman’s catalogues, census counts’.

The Irish Times’s obituary of Joyce claimed that he was ‘many things, but he was certainly the last forty volumes of Thom’s Directory thinking aloud’. When, in the Sirens episode, Bloom notes that one building on Ormond Quay had ‘Twentyfour solicitors’ and adds ‘Counted them’, it either helps or hinders our reading of the novel to know that the same precise information – 24 different solicitors’ offices at 12 Upper Ormond Quay – is contained in the 1904 Thom’s. ‘Dublin,’ the introduction to the annotations tells us, ‘is thus represented in Ulysses by proxy through Thom’s. There is direct evidence within the text that Joyce gleaned information from the 1904 edition of Thom’s … Joyce also inherits errors from Thom’s, further testifying to its mediation between Dublin and Ulysses.’

Although this invaluable book is designed to be consulted rather than enjoyed, there are many useful ways in which the annotations can be read page by page. For anyone interested in the way Joyce’s Italian infused Ulysses, for example, we note the word ‘intestated’ as he uses it – from the Italian intestare, meaning to declare someone a beneficiary – does not have the same meaning as the English word ‘intestate’. ‘Incuneated’, from the Italian incuneare, ‘to wedge in’, has no entry in the OED. ‘Arruginated’, meaning ‘rusty’, from the Italian arrugginire, is also a Joycean neologism.

For students of tone, it’s interesting to see how long the editors can keep a straight face as, soberly and diligently, they write entry after entry, using a printed source for each and acknowledging the help of many named Joyceans. At times, you can almost hear a sigh or muffled laughter. In the Cyclops episode, there is a long, long list of saints, the majority only too real, that includes ‘S. Anonymous and S. Eponymous and S. Pseudonymous and S. Homonymous and S. Paronymous and S. Synonymous’. The annotation tells us: ‘Not actually saints.’ An annotation for ‘Doctor O’Gargle’ in the Oxen of the Sun episode reads: ‘Not a real doctor.’ The one for Father Cantekissem is: ‘Not a real priest.’

The section in Circe that begins ‘Moses begat Noah’ includes ‘Eunuch begat O’Halloran’, with the annotation: ‘Normally, eunuchs do not beget children.’ The annotators go on: ‘Technically, Halloran would beget O’Halloran.’ And they tell us more: ‘There are two distinct branches of the O’Hallorans in Ireland, one from Clare and the other from Galway.’ In the Eumaeus episode, when Bloom reads the Evening Telegraph and finds a mention of the funeral of ‘the late Mr Patrick Dignam’ that he himself has attended, we get this dry annotation: ‘The 16 June 1904 Evening Telegraph did not report on any of that day’s funerals, even fictitious ones such as Dignam’s.’ In Circe, Joyce uses the word ‘Elephantuliasis’; it is noted that he first wrote ‘Elephantulus’, but changed it to the longer word ‘on a note to the printer in which he also wished him a merry Christmas and a happy new year’.

One way of usefully reading this book might be to look up some of the odder references that are cited, including, say, ones that point towards a queer reading of Ulysses – something that still requires a good deal of work. This would begin with Bloom’s pursuit of Stephen as a form of cruising – why else does he follow him? – with all his thoughts about women merely decoys, and would involve seeing Stephen as one of those loud, smelly, overeducated gay boys with bad teeth who were once plentiful in Dublin. I became interested in a gloss on page 1230 which states that ‘Michael Begnal suggests, perhaps not entirely seriously, that she [Martha Clifford, from whom Bloom receives a letter] is actually Ignatius Gallaher.’ This thesis, we learn from the copious bibliography, was first aired by Begnal in the James Joyce Quarterly in the summer of 1976.

It all began because Bloom put an advertisement in the Irish Times: ‘Wanted, smart lady typist to aid gentleman in literary work.’ It seemed that this was code for something else. The letter Bloom received – he was using the pseudonym Henry Flower – from a woman called Martha Clifford in the Lotus-Eaters episode was suggestive: ‘I have never felt so much drawn to a man as you. I feel so bad about. Please write me a long letter and tell me more. Remember if you do not I will punish you. So now you know what I will do to you, you naughty boy, if you do not wrote.’

Some Joyce critics have been unhappy that the identity of Martha Clifford is not to be known: she is a woman who used a pseudonym to write to Bloom, thus ensuring that neither we nor Bloom know her real name, nor ever will. One critic thinks she is Miss Dunne, the secretary of one Blazes Boylan, who is having an affair with Molly Bloom; another thinks she could be Gerty MacDowell, who appears in the Nausicaa episode. Leopold Bloom himself in a kind of dream identifies her as a woman called Peggy Griffin, but there is no solid evidence for this.

In the James Joyce Quarterly, Begnal used algebra to solve this conundrum:

If HF [Henry Flower] equals LB [Leopold Bloom], MC [Martha Clifford] equals X. Now, knowing that both Joyce and Bloom (and the unseen Gallaher) are fond of codes and ciphers, an answer begins to appear. The interval from H to L and from F to B is four; applying this to MC, we get QG (impossible) or IZ (impossible); or perhaps working backward and then forward, IG (eureka!). As bizarre as it seems on first examination, Martha Clifford’s true identity is Ignatius Gallaher, and we should look closely at the evidence before recoiling in derision or horror.

Gallaher’s putative presence as the writer of the Martha Clifford letter in Ulysses, Begnal wrote, makes Bloom ‘the victim of a gigantic hoax’. Begnal takes the view that Gallaher replied to Bloom’s advertisement just to have a laugh. But he could have gone further.

We know Ignatius Gallaher best from the story ‘A Little Cloud’ in Dubliners. He is a journalist in London back in Dublin for a brief visit. Gallaher is unmarried, he has a ‘travelled air, well-cut tweed suit and fearless accent’. He wears ‘a vivid orange tie’, calls the Dublin waiter garçon and says: ‘Everything in Paris is gay.’ And he goes on mysteriously: ‘Talk of immorality! I’ve heard of cases – what am I saying? – I’ve known of them: cases of … immorality.’ If we read all this as code, it’s possible to take the view that Gallaher’s effort to become Martha Clifford, and woo Bloom with threats of punishment, arose from a serious intent: this is another nudge, if we need one, towards a queer reading of Ulysses. But it is more likely to be nonsense and we, all of us, would be better advised to pay more attention to Begnal’s admission that ‘there is first of all the possibility that Martha Clifford has no secret identity’ and forget these red herrings. Better to get on with reading these annotations one by one, day after day.

Most of them illuminate the book and clarify words and phrases, or even whole passages. In the Circe episode, Stephen does some kind of damage in the brothel with his ashplant. Gifford’s annotation on the word that Stephen shouts as he lashes out – ‘Nothung!’ – is ‘the magic sword in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen’. And this is repeated here. But what does Stephen actually hit with his ashplant? In the text, he ‘smashes the chandelier’. But then the woman who runs the brothel asks, ‘Who pays for the lamp?’ adding: ‘The lamp’s broken.’ When Bloom says, ‘Only the chimney’s broken,’ what does he mean? In Annotations, an OED definition of chimney is given as ‘a tube of glass placed over the wick of a lamp to protect the flame and promote combustion’. The annotators explain: ‘What Stephen has smashed is not a chandelier in any usual sense of the word, but merely a gas lamp.’ This may explain why Bloom throws merely a shilling on the table as compensation; it suggests that the use of ‘chandelier’ rather than ‘lamp’ is hyperbole and high drama that fits in with the phantasmagoria of the scene. In the same episode, Stephen’s friend Lynch mentions a possible penance: ‘Nine glorias for shooting a bishop.’ The annotators comment wisely on this: ‘Nine Glorias would be a surprisingly mild penance for such a deed.’ But then they write: ‘Also, “to shoot a bishop”: to have a wet dream.’ They are citing Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang.

And then there is the reference in the Eumaeus episode to the ‘heir apparent’ and ‘other high personages’ sporting tattoos. This looks like Bloom just getting things wrong, as he sometimes does. But Gifford tells us that Edward VII had tattoos, as did George V, as did Nicholas II of Russia and Alphonso XII of Spain, not to speak of Lady Randolph Churchill. Slote, Mamigonian and Turner add that Edward VII ‘received his first tattoo in 1862’, and then give us a source for this, as they generally do. But they don’t always agree with Gifford. Take the tattoo that the so-called sailor in the Eumaeus episode has on his chest. Bloom and Stephen, when the man opens his shirt, get ‘a full view of the figure 16 and a young man’s sideface looking frowningly rather’. Gifford provides a gloss: ‘In European slang and numerology the number sixteen meant homosexuality.’ The new annotators don’t mention this – Gifford gives no source – and quote instead from Stuart Gilbert, who found in a book called Les Tatouages a record of a prostitute in Naples who had a tattoo on her stomach of a naked woman on whose nipple was seen the numbers 16 and 6, ‘which in Neapolitan slang signify anterior and posterior coition’.

Theearly editions of Ulysses were notorious for misprints and textual errors. For his edition, published in 1986, Hans Walter Gabler made more than five thousand changes. While the writers of the new Annotations have some comments on Gabler’s decisions, they don’t argue with them much. For the moment, the question of a reasonably definitive edition of Ulysses seems to be settled. Gabler set out to discover what Joyce’s intentions were and sought to correct errors that had occurred in the creation of the published text. But he didn’t correct mistakes that were Joyce’s last word, or his final intention, or the nearest to it that Gabler could find. There remains a view that while his typists and typesetters made errors, Joyce did not. He was too scrupulous, as Ellmann would have it, and he had so complete a knowledge of Dublin that the book he published in 1922 and the city of 1904 can be considered one and the same.

One of the great values of this huge book, two and a half times the length of Ulysses itself, is to interrogate this idea. In the introduction, the authors quote Stephen Dedalus in the Scylla and Charybdis episode: ‘A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are portals of discovery.’ But only half this last sentence is true. Joyce’s errors in Ulysses were not volitional or even versions of his unconscious; he would have corrected them had he known of them.

Overseeing what is hidden and provisional and less than perfect in Ulysses are two strange, uneasy figures who guard what Stephen called ‘the portals of discovery’: Borus Hupinkoff and John Maxwell. Diligent readers will know that the name Borus Hupinkoff appears in the Cyclops episode in the long list of dignitaries who attended a public execution in Dublin of a patriot who resembles Robert Emmet. The problem is that Borus’s name is not in that list in the first edition of Ulysses, nor in many subsequent ones. In fact, he doesn’t get into the novel until the Gabler edition in 1986. Where was Borus between 1922 and 1986? The new annotators have an answer: in January 1922, the printers in Dijon, working on the first edition, demanded that Joyce make no more additions. Since he wanted it ready for his fortieth birthday on 2 February, he would have to stop writing. But he loved funny names and had an idea for a new one: Borus Hupinkoff. He sent it to the printers, but they replied: ‘Trop tard.’ Gabler decided to include the name.

The other case is different. The person who oversees the execution is named as ‘provostmarshal, lieutenantcolonel Tomkin-Maxwell ffrenchmullan Tomlinson’. This could easily be a joke name, except that the Cyclops episode was written after the 1916 rebellion, and the rebellion was put down by Sir John Maxwell, who ordered the execution of the leaders. Ulysses is set in 1904; it can have no knowledge of the 1916 rebellion. The inclusion of a Maxwell is a sly reference to a man whose name would have jumped out for any Irish reader of the book. But is it an error?

‘Error is fundamental to Ulysses,’ the authors of Annotations write, and they quote the critic Sebastian Knowles: ‘The errors of Ulysses – the ones Joyce intended and the ones he did not – all taken together “reinforce the fact that errors are inevitable, that in a book so concerned with the human such errors are not only forgivable but necessary”.’ Sometimes, as in the Sirens episode, Joyce can be forgiven for being unlucky. He knew the Ormond Hotel, where the episode is set. This was where in 1912, on a visit to Dublin, Joyce met his father and a solicitor of his father’s acquaintance, George Lidwell, who appears under his own name. The problem is that the layout of the ground floor of the hotel was changed in 1905 when the owner purchased the adjoining building, adding Number 9 Ormond Quay to Number 8. Giving the Joyce scholar Harald Beck credit for this discovery, the Annotations authors write:

After the renovations, the ground floor contained, in addition to the bar and saloon at No. 8, a kitchen and restaurant at No. 9. The hotel was further expanded and completely renovated in 1932 (and was demolished in 2018). The layout of the Ormond as described in Ulysses, with Bloom sitting at a table in the restaurant from where he can spy on the bar without being seen, only existed in between the renovations of 1905 and those of 1932 … Joyce had been to the hotel in 1912 and was probably unaware of the earlier renovations.

In Calypso, when Bloom leaves his house – 7 Eccles Street – Joyce has him cross the street, to ‘the bright side, avoiding the loose cellarflap of number seventyfive’. But, as the annotators write, ‘Joyce’s representation of Dublin is not always accurate. Presumably Joyce thought that Number 75 was directly opposite Bloom’s house, but it was across the street and slightly to the right and therefore the loose cellar-flap is not in his path as he turns towards Dorset Street.’

If Dublin were to be rebuilt using Ulysses as its source, it would have a problem with its corners. In the Lestrygonians episode, Joyce has Bloom glancing along Bachelor’s Walk ‘from Butler’s monument house corner’. Since Butler’s is the last house on Bachelor’s Walk listed in Thom’s before the junction with O’Connell Street, Joyce must have presumed it occupied the corner. ‘However,’ Annotations tells us, ‘the corner was actually occupied by 56 Lower O’Connell Street.’ In the same episode, Bloom ‘turned at Gray’s confectioner’s window’, but this was Joyce following Thom’s, which listed Gray’s as the last address in Duke Street before the intersection with Dawson Street. The corner building was actually a pub. It happens again in the Wandering Rocks episode when Joyce refers to ‘MacConnell’s corner’: this was, according to Thom’s, the last address on the street. But it wasn’t on the corner.

And Thom’s could misdirect even about who was alive and who was dead. It listed the Reverend George Salmon as provost of Trinity College Dublin for 1904, and thus Joyce has him as provost on 16 June. But poor old Salmon had died in January. If Joyce had known this, he might not have felt free to call him ‘tinned salmon’ with such ease. Or then again, calling him ‘tinned salmon’ might have been a sly recognition that the Reverend Salmon was no more.

Joyce the untiring chronicler of detail has met his match in the compilers of these annotations. In the Wandering Rocks episode, Joyce writes of two characters, Lenehan and McCoy: ‘They went up the steps and under Merchants’ arch.’ The two, it is clear, are coming not from the quays but from the Temple Bar side. The problem is: ‘While there are five steps down from the Arch to Wellington Quay, there was only one step up on the other side, from Temple Bar to Merchant’s Arch … the step has since been paved over.’ Joyce should have written ‘step’, not ‘steps’.

The danger this book faces – or perhaps relishes – is that it knows too much. In Wandering Rocks, we move, as though in spliced film, from Lenehan and McCoy walking along to young Patrick Dignam, whose father has been buried that day. He comes ‘out of Mangan’s, late Fehernbach’s, carrying a pound and a half of porksteaks’. Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated glosses this: ‘P. Mangan, pork butcher, 1-2 William Street South (approximately a quarter mile south of where Lenehan and McCoy are walking)’. The new Annotations has much more to say:

Joyce seems to have mixed up the former occupant. The 1901 Thom’s lists the pork butcher at 1-2 South William Street as being Thomas Gribben (p. 1551). Bernard Ferenbach (Joyce misspelled his name) was a pork butcher directly across the street at 68 South William Street (Thom’s 1901, p. 1551), but this had closed by 1903, since the 1904 Thom’s lists that property as vacant (p. 1623). So, technically, it should be Mangan’s, late Gribben’s. There is some irony in associating Ferenbach’s with another butcher since, in their advertisements, Ferenbach proclaimed: ‘No connection with any other house in the trade.’

Many small errors are detailed in the book. In the butcher’s shop in Dorset Street, Bloom finds a flyer for ‘the model farm at Kinnereth at the lakeshore of Tiberias’. But this wasn’t developed until 1908. In the Hades episode, he hears a street organ play ‘Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?’ – which also wasn’t composed until 1908. In the Aeolus episode, Joyce introduces the printer, and later lord mayor of Dublin, Joseph Patrick Nannetti, using his real name. But, as the annotators point out, ‘Nannetti was not in Dublin on 16 June 1904.’ He was, they can show, in London. Joyce mentions a chief rabbi, but ‘the office was not created until 1918.’ Bloom mentions wristwatches, but ‘the word did not become popular in English until 1910, and such watches themselves only became popular after World War One.’ And the mention of a ‘nine o’clock postman’ is inaccurate, since the last post in Dublin was at 8 p.m. In the Ithaca episode, Joyce mentions ‘the general drapery store of James Cullen, 4 Main Street, Ennis’, but there is no Main Street in Ennis; the main commercial street, we are told, ‘was called Gaol Street and is now called O’Connell Street’. Ithaca also has a Michael Gallagher living in ‘Enniscorthy, Co. Wicklow’ – but Enniscorthy is in Co. Wexford. In the Penelope episode, Molly mentions the Spanish cavalry at La Roque, but, the annotators write, ‘this reference is anachronistic,’ as the Cavalry Regiment left in 1823.

So, too, the horse Saint Amant was a colt and not a filly. In Scylla and Charybdis, the librarian says that ‘Mr Russell, rumour has it, is gathering together a sheaf of our younger poets’ verses.’ But Russell’s book had already been published, in March 1904. In Wandering Rocks, Joyce mentions an antique shop called Reddy and Daughter’s, but in the 1904 Thom’s there is no mention of a daughter, who was only added in the 1908 edition.

This is one case where Joyce may simply have liked the shape of the sentence, preferring ‘They clasped hands loudly outside Reddy and Daughter’s’ to ‘They clasped hands loudly outside Reddy’s.’ In the Circe episode, Joyce changed an address to amuse himself. He has the prostitute Zoe give the address of Bella Cohen’s brothel as ‘eightyone’ when it was, in fact, at 82 Lower Mecklenburgh Street, according to Thom’s. Joyce ‘switched its address with the headquarters of the White Cross Vigilance Association’, the all-male Protestant group which kept watch outside evil houses.

Some mistakes, then, are not mistakes. We might imagine that the piece of paper thrown into the water in Wandering Rocks could not be ‘sailing westward’, since the Liffey flows east. But the phrase ‘rocked on the ferrywash’ makes clear, according to the Annotations, ‘that the ferry’s wake has temporarily reversed … its momentum’. It’s possible also that Joyce knew that the Poddle River flowed into the Liffey at Wellington Quay, but he needed it to flow into the river at Wood Quay because then it would be under the office of a character called Tom Devan: ‘From its sluice in Wood Quay wall under Tom Devan’s office Poddle river hung out in fealty a tongue of liquid sewage.’ (The fealty is to the cavalcade that includes the lord lieutenant.) Joyce may have temporarily moved the Poddle River.

At the beginning of the Nausicaa episode there are three girls who were ‘wont to come there to that favourite nook to have a cosy chat beside the sparkling waves and discuss matters feminine’. The annotators want to spoil their fun by writing: ‘On 16 June, the high tides in Dublin were at 12:18 a.m. and 12:42 p.m., so at sunset [Nausicaa takes place between 8 and 9 p.m.] it would be low tide and thus in fact the sand would extend out a great distance.’ But the style of the passage, the sort of parody in play, wants things to be nice and does not like the tide being too far out. It simply would not do to follow the facts here.

Some mistakes are big and puzzling. The biggest comes at the end of Wandering Rocks when Joyce has the viceroy’s cavalcade at Lower Mount Street crossing the Royal Canal, which is, unfortunately, on the other side of the city, rather than the Grand Canal, which is where it should be. Some critics have suggested that this is a deliberate error, with the word ‘Royal’ working as a sort of ironic comment on imperial spectacle. Surely it is more probable that, amid all the facts Joyce laboured to get right, he made a howling mistake about the canal, so outlandish that he himself didn’t notice it. If he had wished to offer an ironic response to imperial spectacle, and perhaps he did so wish, then he had many chances to do it. Deliberately moving the Royal Canal across the city just to make an ironic point would have lacked subtlety, to say the least.

Then there is the large question, best posed by Luca Crispi in Joyce’s Creative Process and the Construction of Character in ‘Ulysses’ (2014): ‘When and where did Leopold and Molly first meet?’ In the Sirens episode, Bloom remembers the moment: ‘First night when first I saw her at Mat Dillon’s in Terenure.’ Annotations, however, reminds us: ‘Previously Bloom had thought that the first time he met Molly was at Luke Doyle’s house in Dolphin’s Barn, where there was a game of charades. Mat Dillon is a different friend of the Blooms, also associated with their courtship. The claim here that the first night was in Dillon’s in Terenure contradicts the earlier claim that the first night was at Doyle’s in Dolphin’s Barn.’ The mistake, of course, could be Bloom’s and deliberately included by Joyce. But Crispi writes:

The textual history of these scenes indicates that it was James Joyce himself who was imprecise about the facts of the novel, and this narrative inconsistency will always be part of Ulysses. This kind of slip-up should not surprise readers about any author or any book, but tellingly somehow it does unsettle our conceptions of Joyce and of Ulysses, and so one of my aims is to explore why this may be.

In the Penelope episode, Molly mentions living in Holles Street in 1895 and 1896, ‘when [Bloom] lost the job in Helys’. But he lost his job at Hely’s in 1893. ‘It could be that Bloom got his job back at Hely’s, only to lose it again,’ Crispi writes, ‘though it is more likely that Joyce simply mixed up his own account and meant to write “when he lost his job at Cuffe’s” in this context.’ The annotators also allow for the possibility that it is Molly herself who has confused Hely’s with Cuffe’s. Molly, it must be admitted, is not beyond error-making, or Joyce beyond amusing himself and us at the expense of these errors. In Penelope, she says: ‘I dont like books with a Molly in them like that one he bought me about the one from Flanders a whore always shoplifting anything she could cloth and stuff and yards of it.’ Molly, it seems, is referring to Moll Flanders. The annotators comment: ‘While Defoe’s Moll is a thief and a prostitute, she is not from Flanders.’

It’s easy to see why Joyce gave in to the temptation to write in Cyclops, as reported by the anonymous narrator of the episode: ‘So anyhow when I got back they were at it dingdong, John Wyse saying it was Bloom gave the ideas for Sinn Fein to Griffith.’ Griffith is Arthur Griffith, who, beginning in January 1904, wrote a series of articles called ‘The Resurrection of Hungary’ outlining the recent history of Hungary as a model for Ireland. Annotations tells us: ‘His Hungarian policy was the direct forerunner of his Sinn Féin policy which was launched on 28 November 1905. Thus calling Griffith’s policy “Sinn Fein” is anachronistic.’

This is a small price to pay for allowing a rumour to float that, while Bloom might seem inconsequential in many ways, it was he, with his Hungarian heritage, who nudged Griffith towards Sinn Féin, and led in turn to the growth of militant Irish nationalism that led in turn to the 1916 rebellion that led in turn to Joyce, writing Cyclops after the rebellion, suggesting that it was his hero who set it all in train, like the butterfly whose wings started the storm. In his 1980 book on Ulysses, Hugh Kenner wrote that there was a rumour that Griffith had a ‘Jewish adviser-ghostwriter’, but the annotators here state that they ‘have been unable to substantiate the existence of such a rumour’. Unless, of course, the rumour is in Ulysses itself, spread by John Wyse and the unnamed narrator of Cyclops.

Ulysses is haunted by the story of its own composition. As Joyce famously put it, ‘I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of ensuring one’s immortality.’ The annotators point out, however, that it is ‘very likely that Joyce never said this’. It is not their task to look at the many changes and emendations that Joyce made, but when they do, it’s fascinating. In their gloss on the word ‘BELLO’ – the name suggests a masculine aspect to Bella Cohen in the Circe episode – they point out that Joyce ‘initially wrote “BELLA” and switched to “BELLO” on a page proof’. And in an early draft, Joyce – uncertain, it seems, what to do about such gender-bending – called Bloom ‘Leopoldina’, but then in the same draft he reverted to the less daring ‘Bloom’.

How do you gloss the last words of Ulysses, ‘and yes I said yes I will Yes’? The annotators find a source in Monteverdi’s opera Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria. In the final duet, when Ulysses is reunited with Penelope, she sings, ‘Yes, yes, life, yes, yes,’ then he sings, ‘Yes, yes, heart, yes, yes,’ and then they both sing: ‘Pleasure and joy/has come today/Yes, yes, life!/Yes, yes, heart, yes, yes.’ But another way of glossing this, outside the annotators’ remit, is to examine the manuscript sources to see if these words were always there, always in that order. Are there deleted words that will throw light on the words that were printed?

Crispi writes about a recently discovered Penelope draft whose eighteen final words ‘in many ways … have changed our understanding of Joyce’s work and of Ulysses’. Joyce, he tells us, first wrote: ‘and I said I would.’ ‘It is likely,’ Crispi adds,

that Joyce was copying the initial conditional version from a now lost previous document (and we cannot be sure how long it had that form, possibly several years), but only because of the survival of this particular draft are we able to know the precise moment when Joyce profoundly transfigured the entire tenor of Ulysses with that one change. Unlike the other additions that Joyce placed in the left margins of this page … here Joyce paused as he was writing and changed his plans. Looking at this draft, we can see that ‘would’ is crossed out and only then did Joyce write ‘will’ beside it on the same line, before continuing to the final word of Ulysses: ‘yes’.

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Vol. 45 No. 20 · 19 October 2023

John Glenday writes about a pair of errors in the ‘Ithaca’ episode of Ulysses (Letters, 5 October). He justifiably wonders if the second was an attempt to correct the first, but in fact it isn’t. ‘Ithaca’ is filled with mistakes, some of which may have been deliberate, others pretty clearly accidental; in our book, Annotations to James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, we have tried to account for them.

The first problem Glenday mentions is that Bloom’s bee sting occurred on 23 May, i.e. three weeks and three days previously, not two weeks and three days (as the text says). Fortunately, this does not require reassigning the date of Bloomsday to 9 June. We doubt this was one of those ‘volitional’ errors which are said to be ‘the portals of discovery’: arithmetic was not Joyce’s strong point.

The other point involves the date of the interment of Emily Sinico, a character in the Dubliners story ‘A Painful Case’ who, having died the previous year, does not appear in Ulysses but is mentioned. Initially, Joyce wrote that her burial was on 10 October 1903. This created a problem since elsewhere in the episode, the date of her death was given as 14 October. Joyce caught this mistake and emended the date of her interment to 17 October; the emendation first appeared in the list of errata that accompanied the second edition of October 1922. Even though the problem with Mrs Sinico’s interment date is harder to spot, that was the one he corrected. Evidently he didn’t notice the problem of the bee sting.

Sam Slote
Trinity College Dublin

Marc A. Mamigonian

John Turner
Boston, Massachusetts

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