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‘his eye running down the typescript’: Ulysses, ‘Aeolus’ and the Art of Revision

posted on 2023-10-20, 15:25 authored by Clare HuttonClare Hutton
What motivates authors to revise works and how can we characterise different types of revision? In The Work of Revision, Hannah Sullivan delineates three basic kinds of post compositional authorial revision and associates them with various Modernist authors. ‘Substitutive revision’, the process of ‘delete and substitute’, operates at the level of the word or phrase, and can be seen in Henry James’s revisionary practice; ‘radical excision’, a method of revision which involves significant deletion and paring back, can be seen in the work T. S. Eliot allowed Ezra Pound to undertake on The Waste Land; and ‘revision by accretion and extension’ is associated with the extensive work Joyce undertook on Ulysses in the period from June 1921 when he ‘developed subtly different methods of addition’ to match the different prose styles of the work’s eighteen episodes. Sullivan’s work offers an extremely useful typology of revision as an element of Modernist literary authorship, but in respect of Ulysses there is more to be said. In particular Sullivan does not consider the different kinds of motivation underpinning the revision of the text, the significance of the different stages at which Joyce was working on the text, and the significance of changing social context and opportunity in the story of how Ulysses came to be so radically altered. In this chapter I wish to offer (1) a brief introductory overview of the contexts in which Ulysses was written and revised, and (2) a more specific and new argument about the revision of chapter 7 (‘Aeolus’), a chapter which was rewritten significantly by Joyce in the transition between its serial iteration in print in the Little Review of October 1918, and the volume version issued by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company on 2 February 1922. My purpose is to advance new ways of thinking about the revision of Ulysses, and to show how insights into the compositional chronology of the text can inform readings more generally.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • English

Published in

The Edinburgh Companion to James Joyce and the Arts


Edinburgh University Press


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


  • en


Cleo Hanaway-Oakley; Keith Williams


Dr Clare Hutton. Deposit date: 19 October 2023

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