Joyces: hands off Molly's missing marks

June 25, 2004

The editor of a new reader-friendly version of James Joyce's Ulysses has conceded defeat to the author's grandson Stephen in the battle for Molly Bloom's apostrophes.

A New Reader's Edition of Ulysses was published last week without 250-odd words and punctuation marks that a British court ruled put a previous reader's edition in breach of copyright.

These included some corrected spellings of words that had been erroneously typeset by French printers in the 1920s - such as a missing "r" that turned coral into coal - and a series of absent apostrophes in Molly Bloom's famous soliloquy that ends the book.

Danis Rose, the Dublin-based scholar who edited both volumes, said the new text did not include those corrections that had been deduced through the study of Joyce's manuscript and which had hence fallen foul of the court ruling.

Instead, it had been amended according to scholarly research that drew solely on those editions of Ulysses already in print.

The text of the new reader's edition corrects about 2,000 errors and faults in grammar and logic accidentally introduced by the author, typists, printers and compositors during Ulysses ' tortuous production.

The result, according to Mr Rose, was "not a stripped-down, conservative version" but was "a completely independently created edition that's much more acceptable to the Joyce community".

As important, the Joyce estate has not raised any objections since being contacted about the text last October.

The estate, of which Stephen Joyce is the principal figure, has pursued numerous legal cases to defend its copyright.

The 2002 High Court ruling led to the withdrawal of the previous reader's edition.

Mr Rose said the upshot was that the estate retained possession of the spellings and punctuation in question.

In his introduction to the new book, Mr Rose wrote: "I must announce - to the relief of many of her suitors - that Molly has once again been stripped of her apostrophes.

"Far too many of these specks appear in the manuscripts and are thus, and shall remain for the present, the private property of the Estate of James Joyce deceased."

Mr Rose, instead, has resorted to using hair spaces where each apostrophe might have been.

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