The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar

Two decades ago, a renowned professor promised to produce a flawless version of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated novels: “Ulysses.” Then he disappeared.

Comments: 181

  1. Brilliant story on a fascinating man, subject and novel. Thank you for such a meticulous yet riveting piece. The craft of research, actual personal investigation, and thoughtful and stimulating writing is on full display.

  2. this comment does not really say anything....

  3. Excellent story--surprises kept popping up all the way through. Jack Hitt is a talented writer.

  4. I remember the Kidd-Gabler Wars: they mattered, and this piece matters. Thank you for this.

  5. "Mattered"? In what way? I'm not trying to be snarky, but am just wondering, as I often do, how these purely academic debates actually help materially improve people's lives.

  6. This was really lovely. Funny enough, I felt that your piece beyond helping me see Mr. Kidd, also took me to Boston and Rio.

    Thank you for your hard work with this, you have a great gift of description

  7. One of the most enjoyable articles I’ve read in a long time. I always wondered what happened to John Kidd and his edition of Ulysses. I guess I can stop waiting for it to come out.

  8. "...what happened to"- the idea of an electronic Joyce database" in the '90's and then never heard from again?
    Probably, all tangled up in ownership and copyright only to be shelved far away and stored this century. Excellent article.

  9. The same Jack Hitt responsible for the This American Life episode where he followed a group of inmates at a high-security prison as they rehearsed and staged a production of the last act—Act V—of Hamlet? Listening to this episode on a road trip with my teen-aged children was a life-changing experience for us. They still have the cassette tapes of the program I gave them at their high school graduation. With this extraordinary piece, Mr. Hitt has become one-third of my proverbial dinner party invitees.

  10. And the other 2, assuming one is not you?

  11. Fernando Pessoa, a contemporary of Joyce, left behind a large chest of writings that scholars have been pouring over for decades. It's unclear, however, if Pessoa wanted anyone to see those papers; or if there are any "perfect versions" among them. If you're searching for where John Kidd might turn up next, I guess we'll see him roaming the streets of Lisbon sometime soon.

  12. Thanks for the great article. I never got Joyce, but I see why the professors would canonize him.

    I’ll stick with Proust and The Anatomy of Melancholy.

    I once encountered a minor Joycean in a research setting who muttered muted disapproval of the querulous Kidd’s jubilant textual carping. I thought to myself, how utterly curious, and pointless, this waste of time and energy.

  13. Thank you for creating a graphic trek using the limitations of semantic language in which no word can ever adequately represent the target which IT is meant to express, given the ongoing interactions between what is known, currently unknown because of gaps in knowledge, understanding and necessary relevant technology, the unknowable, and our inability, all too often, to consider not knowing that we do not know.

  14. “Ulysses,” arguably the greatest and definitely the most-obsessed-over novel of the 20th century.

    The greatest novel? Something of a snooze after about 200 pages if you ask me.

  15. really?? cyclops episode a tour de force-comic masterpiece-- rumbold the executioner etc......and ithaca episode brilliant as well--the great catechism...

  16. I'm not asking you!

    I wonder about individuals who want to impose their taste and views on the rest of the world?

    So you didn't like James Joyce and I do.

    Have you never heard that "there is no accounting for taste"?

    However, sometimes the impact of a work of literature or of folk art (Homer's Ulysses) on other authors and impact on the literature of a given language is taken as an indication of its "greatness". It doesn't matter than you dont like to read it, what matters is how it affected other writers, and perhaps among them are one or two that you enjoyed reading?

  17. Can you provide us with a book that will wake us up?

  18. Perfect timing for this piece! Time to unshelf my own annotated, underlined, remarked upon copy for Bloomsday. Find a live reading, readers, and revel in what remains a literary challenge and a delight.

  19. Did he have tenure? Couldn't find the word in the article.

    BU is simultaneously a legit research institution and also pretty mercenary by reputation.

  20. “Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
    Polonius: By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.
    Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
    Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
    Hamlet: Or like a whale?
    Polonius: Very like a whale.”

  21. "“Wonder. Go on and wonder.” -The Sound and the Fury.- Mamas...don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys or Joyce scholars.

  22. Did he have tenure at BU?

  23. Thank you for a wonderful, unique, charming, informative, revealing, entertaining, intriguing, and purposefully meandering story.

  24. Cat, while understanding that you had a run-in with a groundhog, I cannot be your companion in squirrel-stalking on your morning walk, but with some gentle persuasion, you are now out and about in leaps and bounds. Little do you know that our country is reminiscent of the story of a solitary human, afraid to come out of his apartment because a pigeon is in the hallway.

  25. These types are a dime a dozen in academia. Tenure destroyed the ordinary incentives and social modes that create productive lives and actual social civility. Then this generation of abusive snores got the social justice bug and ushered in a new generation of even less productive, even more abusive tenured infants who know nothing but to lazily flap on about the one thing they know: how to weaponize social justice. Meanwhile, the real work of academia -- teaching students -- is shunted off on impoverished permanent part-time adjuncts and graduate students who will never get a job unless they can master the art of spitting out more social justice toxic pabulum. And so it has been in higher education humanities departments for sixth or seventh years now: giant babies who soiled their discipline. Joyce would take one look at this mess and return to the grave.

  26. If this isn't ever a kneejerk reaciton, I don't know what is. Where, in heaven's name, in any single sentence of this otherwise interesting profile of Mr. Hitt, is there one single word that "spits out social justice". To say that Mr. Hitt is a dime a dozen suggests one of two things, or both: that you didn't even read the article, and/or you've never even met a academician, let alone among literary studies. Your head it stuck in the political science department.

  27. Tina, loved your "soiled their discipline" pun!

  28. There are various collections of Joyce's nonfiction, some of it written for newspapers in Italy when he himsef was a nearly starving Artist-cum-Adjunct lecturer of English for non-native speakers, at Berlitz and elsewhere, or giving private lessons.

    Some titles for a first read of Joyce on social justice and politics include _Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing_,
    _Critical Writings of James Joyce_, even _The Portable Joyce_ has _selections.
    Many academic books on Joyce's poiitics exist, but an especialy interesting collection of essays by scholars is _ Joyce’s Non-Fiction Writings: "Outside His Jurisfiction"_.
    Any biography of Joyce's life n Trieste will address his "I-am-a-socialist" phase, such as _The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920._.
    For the boyhood years that were father to the man, see _James Joyce:The Years of Growth 1882-1915:_.

  29. Bravo Jack Hitt! Great detective work, perseverance and down-to-earth erudition. It's clear Kidd is a “take no prisoners” scholar. Bless him for that.

  30. Funny thing is, I knew a guy like this as well: brilliant scholar, obsessed with “The Tin Drum” and “Don Quixote,” went off to Nicaragua at the end of the revolution in ‘84 and disappeared.

  31. It almost seems that a “perfect” version of Ulysses will never exist, since scholars will never agree on the minutiae. And therein lies the beauty of academics in the humanities: they build entire careers and occupations out of endlessly examining things, trying to find answers to questions that don’t exist.

  32. It depends on what you mean by "exist".

  33. Maybe the perfect version is the one James originally wrote?!

  34. I disagree, Koyote. Academics provide various approaches, giving the rest of us multiple points of view. Critical thinking is, thereby, encouraged.

  35. Overwhelmed by his obsessions and compulsions, Kidd has descending into a pool of Joycean madness.

  36. I bet he's been "this way" all of his life...

    Dr. Kidd is an "aspie" or Asperger's syndrome person. (Aspergers and most now know was considered a different diagnosis than autism when first diagnosed by Dr Asperger in the 1940's, but is now considered to be at the "highly functioning" end of the Autism Spectrum.) If interested in the kind or type of mind that characterizes Aspergers, see:
    (this article is about the huge number of Aspies who work in Silicon Valley).

  37. It's nice to know that when eccentric scholars die in sordid circumstances, buried in debt, detested, insulted, alone, that they go to Brazil and eat churrasco.

  38. I think that's where I'd like to go when I die, too.

  39. laughed aloud! thanks!

  40. John Updike's criticism of Gabler's paragraph indents was not trivial or microscopic. They made the text absuedly hard to read, and di not match the style of the original -- which Joyce certainly approved of: it couldn't, unlike the many errors and misapprehensions in the text, be missed even by a man with failing vision.

  41. Fascinating!

  42. Great reporting! Joyce would no doubt be immensely amused, his work continuing to be composed as crabbed brains concentrate, errors are repaired, and accidents, inaccuracies, and misunderstandings multiply.

  43. Seeing this headline, I opened this article first. Reading it reminded me why I didn't pursue academic research as a career.

    At the end you perfectly summed up the current Babel of information, which isn't knowledge and isn't scholarship. A scholar should love and respect the material as well as understand it, whether he or she follows Kidd or Gabler's training and methodology.

    Finally, a correction on pronouncing "Gauleiter": in German, "ei" is long "i" as in "eye". Guess I'm not a gaucho despite what my professors thought.

  44. Thank you for this. I am glad you found Mr. Kidd.

  45. Great article! It shows how the democratization of knowledge via the Internet has also dissipated focus.

  46. terrific story...great to hear he's still alive and at it...would love it if an (authentic) embedded hyperlinked edition was actually published...would that Mr Kidd had been able to see that completed...

  47. Yes, the hyperlinked edition would be a wonderful thing, a nearly complete education in the foundations of Western culture.

  48. Terrific writing. However, the piece's tension and forward momentum (i.e. what happened to John Kidd? Is he dead?) are broken about a third of the way into the story by the photo of Kidd in his Rio apartment, bearing the caption "John Kidd, very much alive, in his apartment in Rio de Janeiro."

    A pretty boneheaded move by the person who lays out the story.

  49. If the author of the article had not acknowledged Kidd's lack of extinction, the interview which forms the latter part of the article would have been confusing.

  50. Yes! Exactly. Very distracting!

  51. There is a photograph of him right at the top of the piece.

  52. The "Slave Isaura" (1875) is a racist and abolitionist book by Bernardo Guimarães (which Jack Hitt didn't bother to mention). With all due respect to John Kidd, it is not that well written. Yet, the story, which portrays the tyranny and arbitrary upon the Mulattos, is essential to the understanding of Brazil's past and present. Based on the book, a Brazilian telenovela produced in 1976 with 100 episodes had a worldwide success. By the way, the Pampas include Argentina, Uruguay and South Brazil with "gauchos" living in all these regions.

  53. Lovely story, but as we're being picky about small points: Gauleiter (capitalized, & singular/plural are the same) is actually pronounced gow-lighter.

  54. Great essay. Thank you!!

  55. John Kidd, I'm so glad you are here amount the living, being your eccentric self and able to afford many fine dinners. I would love to sit in a corner watching you, listening to you, all the whole savoring your above the fray specialness....I'm bitter over a marriage that ended 20 years ago and can completely understand your agitation over the huge slights and lies to your work and character, but, if I could change anything about your lifestyle it would be to eliminate that pattern of self destroying thoughts. You are beyond us petty people. Do what you do and find a harmony of some sort. You deserve it .

  56. Stately Hans Gabler patted his wallet.

    Random House, too, like a round kangaroo.

  57. Escava Isaura is [also] the title of a telenovela -- Spanish subtitles online. Wonderful article. Now that I understand the premise behind "Ulysses" and the period and the word.... just maybe … and the time requirements just maybe....time to immerse or at least dip a toe.
    Reading the dictionary OTOH -- would improve one's score on the Verbal SAT.

  58. So June 16 is coming around again and we have another article in the Times about Ulysses, and this one is one of the more specious.

    While all the research and detective work in comparing dueling texts and finding Mr. Kidd is interesting it is apparent that Hitt really has no idea what Ulysses is all about.

    This is apparent by Hitt’s description of Bloom as a “schlub,” i.e. according to Merriam-Webster, “a stupid, worthless, or unattractive person.”

    Bloom a schlub? Not so much.

    Let’s consider a few facts about Ulysses.

    First, from a Cliff Notes level, the novel Ulysses is named after Homer’s great hero, Odysseus/Ulysses, the figure whose journeys, trials and tribulations are set out in the epic poem the Odyssey. The chapters of Ulysses chronicling Bloom’s travels roughly follow those of the Odyssey.

    While Bloom is no Ulysses, he does have certain characteristics in common with the mythological hero: he’s a man perambulating Life, with all its highs, lows, trivialities and tragedies.

    In short Bloom represents a distillation of Mankind with all the uniqueness and commonality that entails:

    “From inexistance to existence he came to many and was as one received: existence with existence he was with any as any with any: from existence to nonexistence gone he would be by all as none perceived.


    What universal binomial denominations were his as entity or nonentity?
    Assumed by any of known to none. Everyman or Noman.”

    Bloom a schlub? Not so much.

  59. You missed the irony. Unless your post was ironic, in which case you win.

  60. One reason Kidd's Arion Press Ulysses is selling for the seemingly insane price of over $25000 is that it is illustrated with 40 etchings by Robert Motherwell.

  61. I was doing post-doc work on “Ulysses” during the years of the controversy. While Kidd may not have issued a new edition in the short order the copyright situation required, he permanently raised the bar for “Ulysses” scholarship. It's good to hear that he is still at work on another difficult text that speakers of Portuguese see (as the Irish now see “Ulysses”) as a touchstone for their language and culture.

    Literary scholarship is often thought of as a competition, a race for prizes and books and status. Yet it is something else, really—a rich conversation across generations, cultures, and centuries. To turn the evolving conversation to new issues, re-grounding critical analysis in as-yet unobserved details of the text, is in itself an important achievement.

    Many thanks for this fascinating article, with its update on Kidd's work now. Even if one were available, a "definitive" text of “Ulysses” would, as Jack Hitt's conclusion hints, be less than Joycean in a larger sense. In the hands of the "gauleiters," for one thing, such a text could just as often be used not to enrich the conversation but to shut it down, foreclose it. I think the initial negative reaction to Hans Gabler’s edition had much to do with his insistence that only his text was “definitive.” This proprietary claim inspired something like an immune reaction among many scholars of Joyce.

  62. And of course, Kidd: "Making the Wrong Joyce"

  63. Wait a minute! Either I missed the point of this article, or I'm not understanding yours. Why is having a definitive version of "Ulysses" such a wrong (as you seem to be suggesting)? All books have a definitive version, save those from antiquity. When Joyce said that he was giving generations of scholars work, he didn't mean in figuring out what he meant to write, but rather about what he meant.

    The treasure hunt for what he meant to write seems to be because of the haphazard way that Joyce wrote. So that metaphor about gauleiters adds a sense of mystery and threat to the whole affair, but Joyce is the ultimate gauleiter, as is any writer. Just because interpretations of the meaning of his very ambiguous text wildly vary and create a "rich discourse" doesn't mean that Joyce didn't want a fat dot at the end of that sentence. You're being Talmudic about being Talmudic!

  64. Brilliant writing! Spent the morning discussing the piece with my husband and son. Haunting characterizations (the little steps), and hilarious asides. I’ll have to look up this Jack Hitt to read more by him.

  65. I think this article is fascinating. It is a snapshot of the kind of academic feuds that are tempests in teapots and at the same time provide insights into an important work of art. It is also a human interest story about Professor Kidd. And throughout there are the echoes of Joyce himself. Not surprisingly, the many threads of the story are left hanging; on this subject, how could it be otherwise? And so far, the comments, too, are fascinating and mirror what the article is about.

  66. I started reading this lengthy article, about an eccentric academic's obsession with James Joyce's notoriously impenetrable tome 'Ulysses', considered the greatest novel of the Twentieth Century. What I thought would be a dry, stuffy article delving in literary ephemera turned out to be one of the most riveting pieces of journalism I've ever come across.
    John Kidd is a fascinating character, a real person who could easily be the subject of a novel or a film. Whatever one think of him, he is an epic unto himself.

  67. Thank you. Brilliant story. The beauty and enigmatic nature of hermeneutics, semiotics, or, just plain interpretation, the basis of all literary criticism. Ulysses lives on.

  68. This is a wonderful article. Mr. Kidd is the kind of eccentric found only in the academic world. Way back when, I got a Ph.D. in English but left the academic world for a business career — a choice I never regretted. One of the reasons I left was my feeling that academics sometimes argued strenuously and at length over minutiae.
    Mr. Kidd, for all his evident genius, is this kind of academic in extremis. His disputes with other Joyce scholars remind me of a comment Borges one made in another context. It’s like watching bald men fight over a comb.

  69. I actually found similar eccentrics in the world of actuarial Science. Anyone who knows of this very esoteric field (and the quirky folks who do it) will be nodding in agreement.

  70. Eccentrics abound in every field, just give me a few hours to talk about the wide-ranging brilliance and strangeness of the senior scientists in a certain climate research office in NYC.

    Then there are the detail-oriented chefs in the high-end restaurant world, very odd musicians in the baroque chamber music world, self-taught folk art painters, and the list goes on...

  71. Sorry to have as sour a reaction to your comment as you to my scholarship, but did you not notice that Jack Hitt did not cite the title of a single publication of mine in his entertaining essay?

    For a list of my Ulyssean scribbles, Google "Curriculum Vitae of John Kidd".

    Anyone can enjoy a lark of mine that spawned a book and film bearing the name of my favorite offering. . . . Oops, Jack wrote nothing about films. Watch Anthony Burgess on Youtube retract his endorsement of the Gabler edition and champion my view of it as a mess.

    We're not always talking about dots smaller than a flea or as fat as a horsefly. Google my "Scandal of Ulysses". Nine months of ensuing letters in the New York Review of Books are hilarious yet edifying. Just don't put too much stock in anyone excoriating me until you've read my reply.

    Textual cruxes in "Ulysses" can be substantial right off the bat. In the Martello Tower, Stephen Dedalus excuses his 8 a.m. grumpiness: "I'm always tired in the morning." Or that's what Joyce _meant_ him to say, but not one book prints.

    Discovering that his typist had misread his squiggles as an Oscar-Wildean "We're always tired", Joyce wrote to Ezra Pound, making it "I'm". Thus only the 1918 debut of "Ulysses" in the "Little Review" reads "I'm", not "We're". In 1984 Hans Walter Gabler confessed to me in Munich that he had not written to any archives for unpublished letters. I started speed-dialing my librarian-pals, finding the fix in the Pound Papers at Yale.

  72. I'm grinning from ear to ear. - not the usual reaction to a lit crit exploration. Kidd almosts Joyce.

  73. Ulysses is a book about the futility and sovereignty of love. It is fitting to see Joyce and his beloved daughter, Lucia, together, one a diver, one a drowner in the mysteries of prose.

  74. Great article. I remember following the controversy between Kidd and Gabler back in the day. Always wondered what happened.
    Nice to learn the outcome.
    I own a 1946 edition of Ulysses published by Random House (The Modern Library) without the dot

  75. I, too, opened this article first after looking at the headlines re: Trump/Kim/G-7 (soon to be G-6), etc. and found it delightful and inspiring, fascinating and ominous. Thank you. By the way... I just put a hold on "Ulysses" at my local library. I wonder which version they have!

  76. love your comment...

  77. This is a fascinating article, with all it's minutiae, was entrancing. I somehow was drawn into reading and then couldn't stop. It reminded me of why I did not pursue a PhD in English, for example. I suppose there needs to be a place somewhere for people who are completely consumed by details that most of us consider meaningless. There also must be room for nursing ancient, barely remembered grudges. In this careful exposition of Professor Kidd's mind, we learn so much about our own concerns, which would seem so petty when examined by others.

  78. Now the question is "did you ever read Ulysses?"

  79. I completely disagree. This article reminds me of the fun I had pursuing the Ph.D. in English. I'm not trying to insult you, but the fact that you don't get it, the whole thing altogether, the writer included and the entrancing piece he wrote, kind of means you were absolutely correct in not getting that particular degree.

  80. I was pleased to find "the rest of the story" in this amusing bit of gonzo journalism about a scholar living dead in Brazil and buried in something to do with a reordered dictionary.

    I remember the Kidd/Gabler controversy with a nose for bad cheese. It's colorful to focus on the back and forth without mention that, in the main, Gabler got it right. What's the box score? Out of how many corrections were the corrections correct? Pragmatic data are the bane of eccentricity.

    Who reads this book, and why? Readers who prefer "antic" Sterne, Joyce, Rabelais or Cervantes over the others are very different people. My preferences are in that order, but the point is that readers of a book form an attachment that is beyond understanding: attachments are expressions of idiosyncracy.

    James Joyce does not have a literary legacy one can point to, unlike Shakespeare or Whitman. His readers, and writers who revere him, seem alike in their belief that minutiae matter. The bald fact is that Joyce, as a writer and an influence, is a dead end; "Ulysses" is a great book in some ways but also a highly derivative, heartlessly sentimental and overtly virtuosic bit of stylistic breccia.

    Joyce wanted to fix his writing in the details and allusions, and in that way lost sight of the main thing a great book should do. Kidd's life shows how far his readers match Joyce's limitations, and lose sight of the novelistic forest for those dot sized textual trees.

  81. Who would you rather have a pint with, Joyce or Oscar Wilde? Wilde for me.

  82. The bald fact is that James Joyce is one of the most influential writers in any epoch. Ulysses is, among other things, the ur-text of post-modernism. No Joyce, no Pynchon (for example).

  83. "Yes I said yes I will Yes."

  84. Great article. I was a university English minor 45 years ago and had two wonderful professors. One for Russian Lit., and the other for Shakespeare. I still feel the souls of those authors studied in my bones. As a person, husband, father, and businessperson my life is richer because of those passionate professors. I’d give almost anything to take a Joyce course from Mr. Kidd.

  85. it doesn't really matter all that much about misprints or errors creeping into novels or texts. it matters a bit, some more to others, but in the end, is not quite as important as all that, except to obsessive types like Kidd. there is no greatest novel, greatest play, greatest poem, in literature. the premise of the article is based on a fetishization of the text. excellent article, but really, in the end, doesn't strike me as addressing a real issue as much as a kind of trope that borges would have invented. the dot.

  86. I agree with you, there is no "greatest." But it seems to me that 'Ulysses,' depends more on textual accuracy than any other novel. Unless Joyce intended his text to be ambiguous. I wouldn't put it past him.

  87. "the greatest James Joyce scholar alive" ? -- No, I don't think so. There have been many others at his level or higher, all more sophisticated in their interpretations, more valuable to other scholars, and more interesting altogether: Richard Ellmann. Bonnie Scott, Jane Miller, Harry Levin. The author of this article lost me in the first paragraph when he revealed his ignorance of Joyce scholarship with that silly hyperbole.

  88. Jung's thought isn't a variety of psychoanalytic theory. It's a departure from it.

    Just saying.

  89. Reading this reminds me of the pointless obsession over Dylan's poetry which, while engaging and interesting, is little more than hastily cobbled together words that rhyme about girlfriends, ex-friends, and, well, whatever. Good word smithing doesn't necessarily equate with deep thought.
    Any man who devotes his life to the study of similar half-mindless scribblings by Joyce has probably got whatever happens to him coming to him.
    Seriously folks......

  90. Which of the two Dylan are you talking about? It must be none of these because your comments dont match any of their poetry/lyrics.

  91. To throw one’s life away on “Ulysses”, the esoteric block-chain excess of the modern novel, is the mark of foolishness, possibly insanity, and certainly life wandering “The Waste Land”. Not worth the time invested.

    "Paradise Lost", "Devine Comedy", and even "Decameron" are much better choices for time invested, more accessible and go well with evening conversation and wine.

  92. You've got to be kidding!

    ...and you must be talking about lots and lots of wine...

  93. is that the "Andy Devine Comedy"?

  94. have read them all but the 7 years our intrepid group took on ulysses was priceless!! Decameron0 source of Winter's Tale BGTW...

    now on 13 years of Finnegans wake- great fun!!

  95. Great article! Thank you.

  96. By leaving his own "unfinished edition" is Kidd trying to outJoyce Joyce?

  97. William Burroughs revised "Naked Lunch" from one cut up permutation to another. Printings are different by his own hand. The movement of experimental writing, stream of consciousness ends with a few masters. "Absolam, Absolam!" ended for me in a climax, a mental sexually comparative single sentence.
    I could never read Joyce other than the "Dubliners" those coherent short stories. My friends of the time when attempts were made were the artists Robert Armstrong and Gaye Dowling who are now famous Dublin artists.
    "He just wrote in Gaelic. That's the big joke." is what they said.
    That doesn't change the big period problem.
    Most of us end up using the King James Version of the Bible. Key is how it is read to you in the church by the spiritual season. I use the Bollingen Series 6 version of the I Ching. There the Readings have no season.
    I think it is great that detail and minutia is how some people read. It is more profound that the Book of James is left out of the King James Version. That we are all divine matters.
    "Little fish don't eat big fish." Phd. Kidd has been the smaller fish of this story. I salute him.

  98. Wonderful reporting●

  99. Lol. I see what ya did there!

  100. So for the first-time reader of “Ulysses,” which version would you recommend?

  101. No idea, but I think the article made clear there IS no "best edition".....

    Apparently Kidd is no longer pursuing his.

  102. Exzciting journalism about philological warfare, who would have thought! Thanks for this.

  103. Outstanding. Not since the lateTom Wolf has anyone told a story with such juice and energy about nothing interesting until he put the words down. Also proves how you could spend your life in academic with respect and enough money to travel and eat well while doing nothing of interest to less than say 12 humans on the planet. I am off to find more from this writer. I grabbed my unread Ulysses and wouldn’t you know it, no large dot.

  104. Just read the article nonstop then all 45 comments--a truly wonderful diversion from the usual news of the day in these Trumpian times. Mr. Hitt's devotion to the mystery of Kidd and summation of the narrow, carping world of academe make for delightful reading. Ah, to be flush enough to obsess over trivialities as children torn from their mothers languish in southern warehouses and our Attorney General puts down his little foot on women fleeing from domestic abuse. Ah, the vicious ironies of this life.

  105. Fascinating article. John Kidd is like a character out of a Borges story.

  106. The bit about Lucia & Joyce's insistence that she was a greater creator than he is baloney. He was tormented by her illness, which is not related to his writing at all.

  107. bravo!! now i need to obtain a "period" edition with "word known to all men" and to read more of Jack's writing....wonderful article

  108. If we're talking precision in the English language, it should be "none of them is" in:

    None of them are absolutely perfect, but each of them, nevertheless, is “Ulysses.”

    None and each both take singular verbs.

  109. Should “none” be used with a singular or a plural verb?

    Some readers insist that “none” must always take a singular verb. They argue that “none” means “not one,” and so is inherently singular.

    But most authorities, including The Times’s stylebook, disagree. Here’s our entry:

    none. Despite a widespread assumption that it stands for not one, the word has been construed as a plural (not any) in most contexts for centuries. H. W. Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926) endorsed the plural use. Make none plural except when emphasizing the idea of not one or no one — and then consider using those phrases instead.

    --Philip Corbett, 2015 NYT blog entry, "After Deadline"

  110. Thank you, Mr. Hitt, for a well written and fun article.

  111. Re: Kidd's unusual "gaucho/gauleiter" turn of phrase and pronunciation: living in Rio and speaking "fluent Portuguese" (and thus presumably immersed in Brazilian culture) Kidd, one would think, would have been referring to Brazilians living in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul when he used the term "gaucho" and would have pronounced it "ga-OO-shoo," which would have been more illustrative and accurate to mention than the incorrect pronunciation of "gauleiter."

  112. Kidd loves genius. We love Kidd!!

  113. “a self-directed scholar” “thinking through the theories and details of wide-ranging and all-encompassing narratives.”

    I know this kind of person! He’s been working on a medieval long poem (several manuscripts, all them slightly different - an enigma, the earliest literary work in Spanish). He wasn’t a literature scholar when he started - 46 years ago. But he became mesmerized, obsessed, dedicated to understanding the meaning and “unity” of this work. It’s been 46 years! And daily he’s revising what he’s written down (but never published!) in order to pass along his life’s work - his health failing, on oxygen 24/7.

    American Academia seeks to judge “scholarship” so narrowly, so superficially. There’s no room for someone whose “life-work” takes a lifetime, who values true scholarship so intensely as to shun short articles that just skim the surface and lack depth and width.

    He was a wonderful professor. His students loved him. But he’d been educated in Spain (political science/philosophy actually) and did a US Ph.D. in Spanish literature, somehow ignoring the literary experts in favor of his own views and research. As long as his health permitted, he taught and worked on his solitary task: to understand every word, every allusion, the meaning of the whole and all its parts.

    Harvard, right now, has the opportunity to house his work in one of their libraries. (Or elsewhere, if Harvard fails to understand the value of the gift that’s on offer.)

  114. Just an fyi:
    Have to say after reading and very much enjoying this article that I'd bet money Dr. Kidd is an "aspie" or Asperger's syndrome person. (Aspergers and most now know was considered a different diagnosis than autism when first diagnosed by Dr Asperger in the 1940's, but is now considered to be at the "highly functioning" end of the Autism Spectrum.) If interested in the kind or type of mind that characterizes Aspergers, see:

  115. My favorite sentence in this article is, "Run."

    Which indeed is not a fault-finding, nor damning w/ feint praise (spelling intended.) Joyce was not a good fit in this profit-obsessed world, and was constantly cadging a little something from Ms. Beach and his other patrons. Bless them, they got him through.

    Let a thousand flowers Bloom (a schlub? I nearly quit the read right there!); I even enjoyed the much-maligned Jos. Losey film, what w/ the great Milo O'Shea and all. The drinking scene in the maternity ward waiting will be w/ me always, what w/ the lads drinking gov't-subsidised (for the anxious fathers to be!) hooch, surrounded by posters of luridly rendered female equipment and the nun ever-judging keeping an eye on the proceedings.

    ",,, ad introibo ad altare Deum..." All the gladness and joy!

  116. “I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.”

    ― H.L. Mencken

  117. The kind of obsessive nonsense disguised as scholarship in this article should be banished to Mars. There are children starving in many places. This kind of foolishness deserves to get its budget cut. I wonder if Joyce anticipated this??

  118. "This?" According to your theory, you would have wished to banish Joyce too.

  119. "Ulysses" is one of the greatest novels ever written. It's explication needn't compete with efforts to aid starving children.

    Or perhaps you'd like to curtail performances of Mozart as well, as the cost of symphony players could be better spent elsewhere?

  120. What budget? Kidd shared a bank statement from 11 years before, and it showed he averaged $15k in his account. If you think people like him are the major ways money is being siphoned away from poverty amelioration, I don’t know what to tell you.

  121. A pity nobody ever taught Kidd how to code. He has the kind of brain that could have made a fortune.

  122. Forgive them, Father...

  123. Perhaps he feels like a billionaire - of words. What is a fortune?

  124. I'm glad Hitt sought to "fill the void" in this literary mystery, and not just find Kidd after so many years, but let us hear him speak and explain himself. Fascinating story and excellent journalism.

  125. A beautiful piece and a thoroughly enjoyable read. This is why I subscribe!

  126. Wonderful article. Learned more about "Ulysses" than I ever knew.

  127. I guess I am not of the "great minds of literature" set. Well read, well spoken, degreed, and all that, I could not get past page 2 of Ulysses. In a similar vein, I barely got page 2 of this tome. It seems that there are many people who wish to immerse themselves in the torturous task of wading through plethora of words in search of some great and/or hidden meaning and, if the conjecture here is correct, come to a similar end. Great work is never simple, but is most assuredly is not convoluted or obscure.

  128. Why would anyone care about your very tiny opinion of Ulysses?

  129. My friend was a budding Joyce scholar but he suffered from type 1 diabetes and wasn't able to finish his dissertation. I got to really enjoy Ulysses and Paradise Lost through his enthusiasm. I did the perfunctory trip to Dublin. I went of Howth, Dalkey, St. Stephens Green and Glendalock to name a few places. I enjoyed the pubs. I went to Trinity College and marveled at the Book of Kells. I bought a Ulysses concordance and Gabler's version of Ulysses. My friend was studying Jungian mandalas and was obsessed with the phrase, "coigne of vantage." I have read Ellman's biography of Joyce and his daughters love of Samuel Beckett. Joyce's panicked flight of Geneva in 1941 when the NAZIs were about to enter Paris. Anthony Burgess added to my enjoyment breaking down words in pieces and showing how they were bricks to understand Joyce. Thanks for the interesting article.

  130. What an excellent story. I am all in favor of defending obsessives and "masters of minutiae" in scholarly pursuits, unless of course it happens to be an enterprise akin to Bouvard and Pecuchet's. STEM disciplines would idolize figures such as Kidd, and I want the humanities to do the same. There is so much streamlining and tepid regurgitation these days that it is no wonder that figures like Kidd that keep the original fire alive just find no room for their work. One should be allowed to miss the forest for the trees in cases such as these as it is the detail that raises the reader to the level of the author. Any author would feel vindicated when readers notice details. This is not a meaningless pursuit at all- it is what draws a few of us to art and literature. Kidd would perhaps enjoy reading french art historian Daniel Arasse's book 'Take a closer look'- and when you do take a closer look, another world appears.

  131. My 1961 version w revisions includes a very large dot. I finally read Ulysses after visiting Ireland for the first time a few years ago with the help of my computer. I am sure I missed many allusions so would have enjoyed a hyperlinked scholarly version so I didn’t miss as much as I’m sure I did. Ulysses is an inventive and wonderful book but it does require some assistance to understand.

    Bravo to the author for tracking down Kidd. I have now subscribed to his civil war podcast Uncivil and expect more amusement.

  132. Reading this headline, I thought, "Could this be about my crazy James Joyce professor at BU?" Bad flashbacks: I was an undergraduate English major in 1992 when Kidd agreed to supervise my senior honors thesis, something to do with feminist interpretation of Ulysses. The more I dove into the minutiae of not just the text itself but Kidd's obsession with every character in the text and every word of criticism about the text, I felt my sanity unraveling. Kidd had a shockingly uncanny memory, literally for page numbers and punctuation. But the more time I spent in his office, among his books and trying to follow his trains of thought, the more I felt the intense futility and meaninglessness of the endeavor. The whole thing felt like a Joycean recast of The Emperor's New Clothes. In 2018 terms, it was Joyce was trolling all of us from the grave, and John Kidd and his TA's were explicating the layers of nothingness. I came to dread going to Prof. Kidd's office, where I would get pulled into manic, cranky conversations about tiny esoteric details. It felt like madness. I descended into a deep depression that semester and grew to loathe anything Ulysses-related. I abandoned my thesis and barely squeaked by with partial credit when Prof. Kidd (with apparently uncharacteristic generosity) allowed me to restructure it into an annotated digital bibliography. Sad, and not surprising, that Kidd's mammoth edition never came to full fruition. Glad Kidd is alive. I wish him well.

  133. Crazy people can make others crazy. I am so sorry you went through that.

  134. I want to thank Jack Hitt for this. I lived the Ulysses experience through my wife (1944-2018) starting when we were very young parents, studying literature and other things as undergraduates and later graduates and, like so many, working on what we wanted to be when we grew up -- which, unsurprisingly, we never quite got around to achieving. I learned English from Ulysses and her. She lived Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake and she learned Spanish from everything Carlos Fuentes ever wrote and, a little bit, from me. Humanity's literatures (both oral and written) teach us over and over what timelessness really is and that memory is as close to eternity as we can get.

  135. This article reinforces the stereotype of "academics" as hopelessly eccentric. In fact Kidd provided a valuable service in pointing out the (now) obvious imperfection of the Gabler edition, and no doubt of any other possible edition of Ulysses. His eccentricity, if it existed, was in overly vilifying Gabler, and polemicizing his intervention, when he could have simply systematically pointed out the errors and misreadings. That certainly would have been enough, though it might not have gotten him as much attention. The eccentricity, really, was among the non-academics, who relished the seeming eccentricity of a fairly straightforward academic debate.

    Also of interest here is the obvious fact that no "correct" edition of Ulysses is possible--but is this any different from any other text?

  136. Er, isn't a personality like Kidd's rather obsessed with minutiae, in an unhealthy sense? As in obsessive-compulsive disorder? He seems to have ignored other, also interesting and beautiful parts of life. Most of us here love reading and lifelong learning, but isn't there a rational line to be drawn somewhere? You can, I'm told, ride even a good horse to death. I guess I'm inveighing for Aristotelian moderation.

    Not a psychotherapist, but I wouldn't want my kids to be so over-focused. Kidd reminds me of Paul Erdős, the subject in "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers."

    To be rational is to do and be well.

  137. Have to say after reading and very much enjoying your article that I'd bet money Dr. Kidd is an "aspie" or Asperger's syndrome person. (Aspergers and most now know was considered a different diagnosis than autism when first diagnosed by Dr Asperger in the 1940's, but is now considered to be at the "highly functioning" end of the Autism Spectrum.) If interested in the kind or type of mind that characterizes Aspergers, see:

  138. That's a great comparison: Paul Erdős. As a math and physics student (I won't mention my Erdős number, except that I have one), I was fascinated by the guy. The one distinction I'd make between Kidd and Erdős is that the latter seemed to be a very happy man, void of grudges or academic grievances. The joy of solving problems was, for him, more than enough sustenance for a happy life.

  139. Well, this brought back a lot of memories. I was working in the production department of the publisher who was bringing out the Hans Gabler edition. It was part of a much larger "archive" of photographic facsimiles of every scrap of paper that Joyce put his hand to: notebooks, galleys, proofs, postcards, letters, and so on. The new Ulysses was to be the fruit of this labor.

    One day our production supervisor, who was in sole charge of the James Joyce Archive, walked out of her office to tell us that she had just had the strangest phone call. A man named Kidd had called and tried to convince her that Gabler's edition of Ulysses was all wrong and that we shouldn't publish it. According to her, he was rather excitable on the phone. After listening to him very patiently she explained that we in production had nothing at all to do with editorial decisions and that he should try to get in touch with Prof. Gabler or one of the other Joyce editors.

    However, he persisted in calling over and over until he realized that he was hitting a stone wall. He was treated as something of a pet joke in the department--who were we to believe, Hans Walter Gabler or this nut on the phone?--until one day he wasn't a joke any longer. But by then he was Random House's problem and we just watched from the sidelines, until he was completely forgotten in the rush of other work on other books.

    Nice to see that he is as interesting now as he was then.

  140. Joycean in its own way, this article reminds me of my own "obsession" with Ulysses. As a freshman at Columbia in 1966, I had placed out of the standard English course requirements and was able to choose an advanced full-semester course devoted to a single novel--Ulysses. My Random House copy with all the pencilled marginalia remains with me to this day. More importantly, the experience of understanding the novel and its author was the most memorable part of a now oft-maligned "liberal arts" education.

  141. It sounds like Joyce was a compulsive reviser who was perfectly happy to change a word here and a sentence there when he thought of a better way to say something. In that respect, there IS no Ulysses "as Joyce wrote it," since he rewrote it himself many times and in many ways. That may be the problem at the heart of Professor Kidd's procrastination.

    I suppose English Lit will muddle along without him. I am curious about one thing: Does the current edition of the Gabler Ulysses include the correct name of the cyclist Harry Thrift? To Joyce, who was trying to produce an accurate portrait of Dublin, that would seem to be a detail worth fighting over.

  142. I worked on the Norton Ulysses project in a limited capacity during those days; I was the "philosophy, mythology, theosophy" guy on the project under several very talented scholars. We were not a big team... Two fellows did the main work: Mark Mamagonian and John Turner. John Kidd spent a lot of time picking up stray birds, as you've mentioned, and walking up and down Bay State Road in creamsicle suits.

    He was more interested in 'being Joyce' than 'doing Joyce' in my opinion. Mamagonian and Turner were (and are) superlative scholars. Mamagonian's work now involves the Armenian Genocide.

    Too segue... I really want to mention that Will Lautzenheiser--he of the limbless, now ambulant--was an integral part of this project. One of the sharpest fellows we ever knew.

    It was an interesting project full of interesting folks.

  143. Wonderful article! This is my first real introduction to the world of literature; I had no idea of all the intricacies and competition involved. My biggest takeaway is to now appreciate the small details in literature that I used to consider menial and those who obssesed over them as crazy. I truly have much to learn.

  144. Reminds me a lot of a Joseph Mitchell NYer article about a Joe Gould type subject. OCD and autism behaviors are not as fascinating as they were before we knew they were common, biologically based brain disorders. What’s actually more Interesting to me is how the “sane” world responds to these people and their unfinished, compulsive schemes.

  145. I think you are too quick to diagnose. How much have you studied James Joyce?

  146. The problem, hand-waved away here, is that Joyce made corrections to printed editions of Ulysses without having access to his own original (access we do have). So his corrections were not the restorations that corrections ordinarily are. They are, usually, more or less isomorphic to the originals but a different way of putting it, which makes it impossible to get one consistent edition. Gabler had to decide what to do when Joyce had two or more Joycean ways of saying something. You can disagree with his principles or theory of editing, but he has a reason for most of his editorial decisions, and those reasons tend to yield insight. Scholars like Gabler's edition because it enriches the text with a whole lot of things that Joyce DID write. To go back to your snarky and unfair comparison to Hamlet's speech, Gabler's edition is more like having the two versions of Shakespeare's King Lear. For me, they are both aspects of an ideal, Platonic King Lear that doesn't exist in our world, since Shakespeare seems to have wanted to add material and had to cut other material to find room for the additions. But the Platonic Lear, like the Platonic Ulysses, is enriched by knowing all the ways that Shakespeare wrote each scene and each speech. So if "love" is the word known to all men, it matters that Stephen thought so, and matters that Joyce may have wanted at one time to make it implicit -- to make it Stephen's anguished question - and another time explicit, in his beautiful answer.

  147. Good points. And Kidd was never "celebrated as the greatest James Joyce scholar alive." Hugh Kenner, Ellman, Gifford have more right to that title. Neither was Kidd the most blazingly brilliant. John Bishop of UC Berkeley had a parlor trick where students would give him a two-word quote from Ulysses and he would give the line numbers and pages from both the Gabbler and original edition, and recite the lines that followed.
    Joyce scholars that I knew thought Kidd went into the hypertext version of Ulysses because his arguments against Gabbler were not that important.

    In some ways, you can imagine Joyce would be happy that, like Hamlet, there are different versions of Ulysses: "Ineluctable modality of the visible" after all.

  148. Thanks for this great article. I read Ulysses twice in my life: once as a teen, and again in my late thirties. My first reading was attended by a compulsion to explore every reference, and, eventually I'd hoped, come to a deep understanding. I failed miserably.

    By the time I picked it up again, twenty years later, I found its mysteries to be more beautiful if left unexplained. By that point I'd come to believe that the power of great art often resides in its ambiguity and unfathomability.

    Great literature has an interesting arc within the academy: to a point, scholarship is enlightening. It enriches the reader's experiences with a book. But beyond that point, literary criticism is, in my opinion, a distraction, a counterproductive exercise that often degenerates into petty bickering on matters so minute and, often, entirely unprovable, that it becomes meaningless. It's not like there's a grand unified theory of Ulysses that's waiting to be discovered and put to some experimental test.

    Still, it's job security, I guess.

  149. This is fantastic read. Reminds me of what used to be found in 'Lingua Franca' all those years ago, in which Jack Hitt used to publish. Excellent reporting with an engaging narrative. Thank you!

  150. "the perfect edition remains always close at hand and just out of reach"

    In other words, there can never be a complete edition for a text that was written so chaotically by Joyce.

    Impossible. Mythical even.

    The text is brilliant but it will always be amorphous.

  151. This article about James Joyce's "Ulysses" was excellent and I followed the life of Professor Kidd with great interest. At the mention of "The Dream of the Red Chamber," I was quite amazed as I am presently reading this book, Anchor Book edition, 1958. I am not a scholar but an artist and I had been wondering about an art teacher, Seong Moy, I had many years ago at the Print Club in Philadelphia and where his work could possibly be seen now. Amazon had this book with his cover illustration. Hopefully Professor Kidd may write about his studies with this book in the future as there are also many varying editions.

  152. I believe I once waited for this corrected edition of Ulysses to come out, based on reading something Hugh Kenner wrote announcing this project. Of course, memory can be faulty, but I do know that I read the novel in its glorious imperfect form when waiting proved futile. What an amazing story.

  153. Fascinating article, a well written account of what can happen to a person with a photographic memory and perfectionist compulsions. Kidd, and perhaps Joyce, were immersed, trapped, and compelled to swim in a sea of words. Anyone who has been in the ocean in choppy weather, far from land with the boat seemingly receding, will understand.

  154. I just pulled out my copy of Ulysses circa late-1990s from a course at the University of Tulsa, publisher of the James Joyce Quarterly.

    1986 Gabler Edition, dot entirely omitted.


    In other texts mistakes of this sort might be forgivable, but Joyce scholars know otherwise. I anxiously await a new edition.

  155. Didn’t seem to bother you before, did it?

  156. I did the same thing with the same edition and was shocked to find no dot, although Gabler evidently told Hitt that there was one there

  157. A similar confusion happened to the original text of the New Testament, and the ingenious way it was solved could be done for Ulysses as well. The New Testament is written in Greek, and there are more than 5000 manuscripts and fragments, all done by hand. The earliest (and most reliable) were written when writing material was scarce and Christianity was an outlaw religion, so copying wasn't done openly.

    The first printed editions were in the Renaissance, made from late, corrupt manuscripts. This became a common edition called the "textus receptus" (Received Text). Over many years, it got reprinted over and over because it was cheap, so that's what everyone had.

    Then earlier manuscripts were discovered by various brilliant scholars, each of whom published a New Testament of his own, all differing from one another and each claiming to be the best. In other words, the text of the New Testament was even more of a mess than Ulysses.

    Then in 1898, book publisher Eberhard Nestle solved the problem. He took the three top scholarly texts and printed a New Testament where, whenever two agreed, that went into the text and the third reading went in the margin. Scholars accepted this, since he was using a neutral method and everyone's reading was in there somewhere. It was widely popular (and is now in its 29th edition, BTW).

    Couldn't something like this be done to Ulysses, with ALL the variants available in one volume? That would make it easier for readers and scholars both.

  158. When asked what two books I could have with me on a deserted island, I always name Joyce's "Ulysses"first. The second tome would be "How to Build a Boat. "

    "Ulysses" first, last and always.

  159. I was fortunate to glance at one of the original galleys of Ulysses that my old friend, the renowned physicists David Halliday (now deceased) had sequestered away in his safe. He had, I believe 5 galleys and he sold one at an auction to a gentleman from NJ back in ~1982. I have no idea what happened to the other galleys, I'm sure they are stored away in some secure humid controlled warehouse in someone’s private collection.

  160. Thank you for this fascinating and wonderful story.

  161. Mr. Hitt, you know your craft! Inspiring. Thanks!

  162. How very Joycean! James would have been thrilled for he was certainly as much a pedant as Kidd - with one important distinction. Joyce wrote Ulysses.

  163. Maybe Joyce had the last laugh and never intended for there to be a perfect version, as if there is anything ever perfect. Maybe Joyce wanted to make people mad in their pursuit of the nonexistent state of perfection. How can thoughts and ideas expressed in the symbolism of words ever achieve some type of perfection. Perfection of WHAT. Perfection is a human invention and not found in nature. It's nice cocktail party conversation for the bourgeoise academics. I recall Bob Dylan telling someone who tried to interpret his musics inner meaning. He said "he had no inner meaning in his music and why were they wasting their time looking for it when it doesn't exist."

  164. Mr. Hitt does a fabulous job keeping us in the dark until the end about John Kidd and his work on others' making a mess of editing Joyce's "Ulysses" and his betrayal of the audience waiting to get the promised reliable 'corrected" "Ulysses." It's an epic tale of claim and failure. In the end, does it really matter so much that the novel is not in its 'perfectissimo" edition? Joyce is to blame for much of the mess, but most of it seems to be minor. But there will always be gauchos, freewheeling and reckless cowboys, and 'gauleiters' or authoritarian housekeepers who insist upon strict rules. Joyce himself liked to play/mess with the rules and also losing his eyesight caused him to bd not the most conscientious and effective proofreader. Like the supposed to be larger dot it is a thing in the eye of the reader wand whether to notice, if at all, the mistakes or what to make of much of the slippage.

  165. Lovely article about a fascinating and brilliant man, Professor Kidd. I’m so glad that the wild sheeps chase ended well—in the sense that Professor Kidd was found alive and of sound body and pursuing his interests in his usual eccentric style in a fascinating setting. Bravo, Professor Kidd. Everyone’s time is their own to spend whether they want to spend it speaking to birds in the shadow of a fountain, staring at the blue, New Mexican ski, or pursuing the esoteric and interesting. There is an old pub song which goes by various names and frequently ‘The Ballad of Jock Stewart’. One line: “I’m a man you don’t meet everyday”. Nor is Professor Kidd, of course, and the world is better for it.

  166. It seemed at the time of the controversy over Gabler's edition, that Gabler wanted to place himself on a par with Joyce; his attitude was that, of course, his version was superior to any other and perhaps to any edition Joyce himself might have wanted to authorize. His arrogance was rank.

    John Kidd, on the other hand, offered a reading that was full of respect for Joyce's originality, his textual adventuring, and his genius for creating a world of living characters out of words.

  167. "Ulysses" is the greatest novel of the 20th century like Donald Trump is the greatest president of the 21st century. Both have devout followers, and both have hoodwinked millions.

  168. Ed L.
    Thanks for providing this reader with a merry laugh albeit nervously

  169. Spectacular piece. I should have gone to bed long ago but couldn't stop reading...

    Jung summed up their father-daughter relationship as “two people going to the bottom of a river, one falling and the other diving.”

    Beautiful analogy by Jung. Worth reading the whole thing just to find that nugget.

  170. Fascinating article.

    I'm one of those lazy people who never even TRIED to read Joyce but was introduced to him and his works by my future husband when we were both in college. He became quite involved with the chaos of Joyce's writing.

    Have to say after reading and very much enjoying your article that I'd bet money Dr. Kidd is an "aspie" or Asperger's syndrome person. (Aspergers and most now know was considered a different diagnosis than autism when first diagnosed by Dr Asperger in the 1940's, but is now considered to be at the "highly functioning" end of the Autism Spectrum.)

    If interested in the kind or type of mind that characterizes Aspergers, see:

  171. Why do I find this idolization of Joyce and Ulysses' minutiae to be akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  172. One of the most interesting stories I have read or, in fact, heard of. I'm not sure why but I don't think I will ever forget it.

  173. Mr. Kidd is living the dream of pursuing his intellectual curiosity wherever it takes him. Yes, this a very detailed article, but some extremely salient points were overlooked. How does he finance this simple, eccentric, yet comfortable life of the mind in a foreign land? What arrangements does he have for healthcare? Many of us frustrated creatives bound by golden handcuffs to dreary office jobs would love to know...

  174. More stories like this in the Times, please

  175. oh James would be intrigued

  176. Delving into the impenetrable absurdity which is "Ulysses" is enough to drive anyone crazy. In my pantheon of overrated writers: Joyce, Faulkner, and Hemingway; obscure, muddy writers who can't hold a candle, for example, to the coruscating Alexander Pope or a Nabokov.

  177. Faulkner overrated? You cannot begin to understand the American south and it's bitter contribution to the American ethos without Faulkner.

    While I am not smitten with Hemingway, I do recognize that the expansion of the literary tool-box of style and technique owes Hemingway for hewing an indispensable step-stone on the pathway to modern literary stylistics. Easy to take for granted today.

    As for Joyce, a fantastic farce (absurdity) is still fantastic. Joyce's virtuosic whimsy is well worth celebrating, even if an acquired taste, as that Venn intersection of a new psychological view of self and mind coupled to a literary celebration of language and place which we can only now take for granted because the work to illuminate it, fully extant and visceral in the "beauties of my [his] style hitherto undreampt of," has been done by Joyce in an exploration and dissolution of previous boundaries in literary form.

    My accommodation, when I consider great writers, is that they pursue diverse goals with their work so direct comparison is problematic. One can look at legacy and impact which requires scholarship, but competitive comparison is not useful to me. I find it interesting to see how a work fits within the trajectory of change and evolution in literature. Like Beethoven's music, some literature feels stunningly modern because it is the antecedent that birthed the contemporary familiar and exhibits the boldness and prescience that marks a masterwork deserving of admiration.

  178. What a delightful article! As anyone familiar with Joyce criticism knows, if you're going to be a Joycean, you'd best be an obsessive on par with Talmudic scholars. Kidd comes off like an underdog hero here--the brilliant, scrappy crackpot vs the dry academic Ivory Tower establishment. Kudos to Gabler though for his "administrative efficiency" in actually completing his work and getting it published, thereby making it a target for Joyceans like Kidd!

    For anyone interested in the fascinating history of how "Ulysses" was disseminated and published, I highly recommend "The Most Dangerous Book" by Kevin Birmingham--mentioned here in Hitt's article. It's thoroughly researched and very well written. From its inception "Ulysses" was heroically championed by scores of people who risked their reputation and livelihood to make this book available to the public.

    Thanks for finding John Kidd! Glad to know he's alive and well--and still a "gaucho."

  179. thank you for this article. I knew nothing about this person and enjoyed the education

  180. Thanks, Jack Hitt. Wonderful article.

  181. “These are not misprints,” he said, “but beauties of my style hitherto undreamt of.”

    Reminds me of when John Cage was asked at a performance what was the best seat in the house. "Everyone is in the best seat," he replied.