See the article in its original context from May 25, , Section B, Page 16 Buy Reprints View on timesmachine TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. He was 81 and lived in Williamstown, Mass. Gifford retired in from Williams College, where he was a professor of English and of American studies and had taught since Seidman, an ex-student of his, is still in print in a revised and enlarged edition, entitled ''Ulysses Annotated'' , University of California Press.
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Shelves: litcrit , joyce This book is bulkier than Ulysses itself and I didn't like it one bit. I think the authors knew I wouldn't. In their preface they say The notes may appear to labor an abundance of the obvious in order to render a few grains of the subtle and suggestive And This book is designed to be laid open beside the novel and to be read in tandem with it. Tandem reading, however, has its disadvantages. I'll say.
Especially when the front rider on the tandem is pedalling manically into the dangerous transcendent This book is bulkier than Ulysses itself and I didn't like it one bit. Especially when the front rider on the tandem is pedalling manically into the dangerous transcendent extreme edge of language itself and the back rider is steering towards a bricabrac shop he just spotted. They suggest a plan : an "interrupted" reading of a chapter i. Or even better : Skim a sequence of notes, then read the annotated sequence in the novel with interruptions for consideration of those notes that seem crucial, then follow with an uninterrupted reading.
Yes, I think that's the best way. If you have no family, no pets and a private income. The annotators are crushingly aware that they are actually wrecking a major part of JJ's work, which was to show the significance of the trivial Bloom finally meets Stephen, but they part and don't become friends, that's it, no big drama folks, nothing to see. But by hammering every triviality with a big note this book changes the trivial into the significant by the very act of annotation.
But still, it's a useful book since it tries to explain everything in Ulysses which is no longer common knowledge. And what is this thing called common knowledge now, anyway? I was speaking with an elderly female relative the other day no names please and in the conversation it became clear that she'd never in her long life heard of the idea that there might have been a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Meanwhile I work in an office with a bunch of kids just out of university and I'd bet a crisp tenner that half of them wouldn't know who JFK was.
So that means that almost everything in Ulysses isn't common knowledge anymore. But my main objection to this probably inevitable and essential book, why I don't like it at all, is that it gives you, the reader of Ulysses at least I hope you are the idea that you ought to understand every bit of Ulysses, every damned reference to bits of Italian opera and Irish slang and Fenian history and the Latin mass and how much a Dublin hooker paid in rent and so on and so forth and really — big breath — you don't need to, you just don't, at all.
JJ shoves all that glorious detail in as the woof and weft and particoloured pantaloons of his gartersnappingly real picture of dear dirty Dublin, so, you know, just breathe it all in, and as in your own real life, accept that there are about a thousand bits and bobs of conversations and half heard remarks and things that go by too quick on the tv and all of the onrush of frantic netsplurge and soundblurt of the day-to-day day which you won't quite get.
And that's how it is. But this book thinks you can get everything. It's just wrong.
Ulysses Annotated by Don Gifford
Related Books About the Book Don Gifford's annotations to Joyce's great modern classic comprise a specialized encyclopedia that will inform any reading of Ulysses. The suggestive potential of minor details was enormously fascinating to Joyce, and the precision of his use of detail is a most important aspect of his literary method. The annotations in this volume illuminate details which are not in the public realm for most of us. The annotations gloss place names, define slang terms, give capsule histories of institutions and political and cultural movements and figures, supply bits of local and Irish legend and lore, explain religious nomenclature and practices, trace literary allusions and references to other cultures. Annotations are keyed not only to the reading text of the critical edition of Ulysses, but to the standard Random House edition, and the current Modern Library and Vintage texts. Reviews Recommended Text —The James Joyce Centre, Dublin "This sturdy, handsomely produced reference book is here to stay; we will use it, fill in its margins, rely on it, find fault with it. Ulysses Annotated will be one of the most handy and most important critical tools we have, simply by virtue of its existence and availability.
Contribute Notes Sources The annotations on this site build upon previous efforts and attempt to acknowledge intellectual debts. Frequent reference is made, often by last names only, to these published collections of notes: Weldon Thornton, Allusions in Ulysses, 2nd ed. Seidman, Ulysses Annotated, 2nd ed. Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael P. Sam Slote Alma Classics, A hardcover edition of the novel with notes at the back Frequent references are also made to notes by various contributors on the website James Joyce Online Notes www.