The Necessary Fiction: Life With James Joyce's Ulysses
This unusual book is a fascinating work of personal criticism or "biblio-memoir" which will appeal to all interested in James Joyce's work, and, more widely, to those interested in responses to great art. It focusses on the life-long appeal of a particular work of art on a single individual who has been a leading Joyce scholar for 40 years.
Professor Groden has taught Ulysses to undergraduates, to graduate students, and to adults outside of universities in a long and distinguished career. He is the author of two often-cited scholarly books on Joyce's novel, and he has overseen the 63-volume facsimile reproduction of his manuscripts.
Groden says: "I've often been asked why I've devoted so much of my life to Joyce's novel. The Necessary Fiction tries to answer that question. I wrote the book partly with seasoned readers and scholars of Ulysses in mind, but I aimed it especially at readers who desire to read, have attempted to read, or have even succeeded in reading Joyce's novel and who will welcome an accessible, very personal introduction to it as well as a case for reading or rereading it."
"A neologism that has been applied to my work - 'autobloomography' - captures what I am trying to do in The Necessary Fiction.
"The first half of the book considers various possible reasons for Ulysses'powerful impact on me when I read it as a 19-year-old undergraduate at Dartmouth College and later worked on Joyce's manuscripts for his novel as a graduate student at Princeton University. This section deals with each reason in relation to a significant person in my early life.
"The second half discusses Ulysses' continuing fascination for me in my professional adult life as a university professor and Joyce scholar. Throughout the book, I've interspersed accounts of my life with Ulysses with analyses of the novel itself."
The Necessary Fiction is some 79,000 words long with an additional 9,600-word appendix that provides a chapter-by-chapter summary of Ulysses.
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About the Author
"Michael Groden has been at the centre of Joyce studies since the 1970s. Ulysses in Progress (1977) signaled the beginning of a new orientation towards textual and genetic concerns, and this continued with his co-editorship of the remarkable 63-volume Garland Press edition of Joyce manuscripts. While all this was going on, a more personal approach to Joyce was maturing, and this has issued in a highly engaging memoir of those years. The Necessary Fiction: Life with James Joyce's Ulysses is a thoroughly absorbing and highly recommended story of an academic's life. It is also a brilliant reminder of how the book we read is often the book that reads us." - Professor David Pierce.