University of Virginia Library

General Problems

One of the major problems for the future editor of Dubliners will be the punctuation of the text. He will certainly want to return to Joyce's own desired punctuation of direct discourse (dashes instead of quotation marks); but will he want to follow Joyce's habitual MS procedure and place a dash both before and after a paragraph in which direct discourse appears, or will he adopt the procedure of the published versions of Portrait and Ulysses and use the opening dash only? I am inclined to favor the latter, as representing Joyce's final procedure — but the question is certainly arguable. The use of commas will present another problem of considerable complexity, owing to the bizarre pre-publication printing history of the book. The compositor of the Maunsel (Dublin) printing added about one thousand commas to Joyce's text. In "A Mother," for example, where we have a full set of galley proofs to examine, we find that the galleys have 87 more commas than the MS from which they were set. The Grant Richards page proofs for the first edition (which were set from page proofs of the Maunsel printing) show that 70 commas were removed between the galleys and the Richards page proofs, and we find that 12 more were expunged for the first edition itself. But some of the total of 82 expunged commas were present in Joyce's MS, and a number of compositorial commas which were not in the MS have been allowed to stand in the text. Should the editor go back to MS or allow the final version to stand, as having been proof-read by Joyce and therefore carrying his approval? We cannot be sure which readings in the first edition are among the 200 corrections Joyce wanted to make, but the


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existence of 200 errors certainly undermines our confidence in the first edition. Still, Joyce was given to continual revising in proof, a habit which prevents us from accepting with absolute confidence a manuscript reading over a reading in the first edition. Each case will have to be decided individually by an editor who is deeply familiar with Joyce's habits of punctuation and is willing to proceed eclectically, relying on his judgment.

There will also be problems in substantive readings for the future editor of Dubliners. The question of "lost" improvements in the late stage of the Maunsel (Dublin) text has been considered in my earlier essay (and some additional material of this kind will be presented below) but there are questions even more complex than this which the editor will have to face. The final MS of "Ivy Day in the Committee Room," for example, which was the printer's copy for the Maunsel (Dublin) printing, bears a number of marginal corrections in Joyce's hand. Some of these marginal corrections appear in the page proofs and finally in the first edition; others seem never to have been printed. (They might, however, have been incorporated into the final Dublin state, of which, for this story, there is no known copy.) Here again, and in other similar cases, the editor will have to rely on his critical judgment and decide whether Joyce thought the better of his marginal improvement and deliberately omitted to include it in the printed text, or he simply lost track of it, and now the editor must execute Joyce's long-delayed intention. All this suggests a generalization about the problems of an editor in relation to bibliographical theory. It seems that no theory of textual transmission, however carefully and thoroughly worked out, will absolve the editor from using his judgment and his critical faculty. He will have to take risks. In the present instance we have an unusual amount of material available. What would we not give to have two MS and two proof texts for one of Shakespeare's plays (as we have them for "Ivy Day in the Committee Room")? But even such a miraculous acquisition as this would probably leave the text of the play a long way from settled.