Just as readers are still learning from Joyce the writer, so too we continue to learn more about Joyce the man as unpublished correspondence in private and institutional collections comes to light. The revelations are not always flattering. Geert Lernout's groundbreaking study, ``Finishing a Book Without Title: The Final Years of `Work in Progress,' '' draws on unpublished letters and telegrams to reconstruct in meticulous and often witty detail the final, frenetic years of Joyce's composition of Finnegans Wake--and its protracted publication in May 1939. Nearly all of the novelist's exchanges with his British publisher, Faber and Faber, and his American publisher, Viking, were conducted through his devoted friend, secretary, financial advisor, and ``permanently attached slave'' Paul Leon. Analyzing Leon's written correspondence with T. S. Eliot, B. W. Huebsch, and others, Lernout reveals the difficulties posed by Joyce's silences, evasions, and missed deadlines, as well as the admirable ``patience and forbearance'' of his publishers, who were led to believe that the untitled work would be completed by as early as 1931. In detailing Joyce's compulsive revisions and enlargements of his epic, even as type was being set, Lernout suggests that his ``inability to finish the book seems to
Joyce Studies Annual – Fordham University Press
Published: Dec 12, 2013
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