Jeri Johnson on James Joyce’s mistakes for fun and prophet

The odd thing about this mistake is that Joyce the author wrote ‘write’. It was either the typist or the typesetter who ‘wrote’ ‘wrote’. Joyce did not notice it until several proofs of this episode had been pulled and had repeatedly repeated ‘wrote’. When he did notice it, Joyce the writer wrote Bloom’s ‘I wonder did she wrote it’, thus opening wide his authorial arms to embrace the typesetter’s mistake. As Stephen Dedalus says later: ‘A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery’ (182). Errors, it seems, are volitional even when made by someone else.

What do we learn from all this? As Fritz Senn remarks, ‘After half a century of Ulysses, we have learned to regard any information provided within the novel with skeptical, in fact Bloomian reserve. On the other hand, we invest the words of the text with unusual trust.'[55] We trust, that is, that despite their erroneous status ‘L. Boom’, ‘world’, and ‘wrote’ communicate meanings that lie outside the scope of narrow rectitude. Ulysses repeatedly reminds us that certitude aligns itself with bigotry, racial hatred, blind nationalism, egotism, violence. (‘Cyclops’ distils this alliance.) Joyce’s alternative authority is one which recognizes the inevitability of error, exercises a healthy scepticism, and yet happily embraces the new world occasioned by the fall, the lapses. (See Finnegans Wake!) It is thus that Joyce retells the tale of the felix culpa.
— Jeri Johnson, in their Introduction to _Ulysses_, Oxford University Press (1998), ISBN10: 0192834649, ISBN13: 9780192834645, p. xxx.

[55] Fritz Senn, ‘Book of Many Turns’, in Staley, ed., _’Ulysses’: Fifty Years_, p. 44.

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"The odd thing about this mistake"
James Joyce Jeri Johnson Posted on behalf of and on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 under Quotations.

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