Hugh Kenner (1923-2003), Canadian literary critic and distinguished Joyce scholar. He held academic posts at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Georgia. Adaline Glasheen (1920-1993) was the author of the Census to Finnegans Wake and other writings on Joyce. Edward M. Burns is Professor of English at William Paterson University of New Jersey. His editions include A Tour of the Darkling Plain: The 'Finnegans Wake' Letters of Thornton Wilder and Adaline Glasheen, and he is co-editor of TEXT: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Scholarship.
This volume contains all of the extant letters written to each other by the renowned Joyce scholars, Hugh Kenner and Adaline Glasheen, between 1953 and 1984. In these frank letters, we are offered the opportunity to visit the creative process. The letters have been carefully annotated so that we can follow how their ideas are absorbed into their published writings. They do not hesitate to try out ideas on each another and they do not hesitate to express uncomfortable opinions. Their contributions to the common cause spark off each other. This book will be a compulsive read for Joyce scholars, for scholars of literary modernism, and for those interested in the history of literary criticism.
The Letters of Hugh Kenner and Adaline Glasheen, 1953-84
"Kenner wrote to Glasheen in 1953 'Joyceans are such privy bastards. They fondle their filing cards and tremble lest anyone should get an idea from them,' … This collection of letters is a literary dialogue between two Joyce addicts and scholars that extended from 1953 to 1984 and provides an amusing insight into the scholarly thinking on Joyce over these decades as Kenner and Glasheen exchange ideas, try out new propositions and mutually refine their conclusions … An entertaining read."
"A handsome volume of the letters of Hugh Kenner and Adaline Glasheen edited by Edward M.Burns is now available. Published by UCD Press."
"Another one in the new book of Glasheen-Kenner letters – Glasheen noticed that Telemachus hurt his hand in the battle against the suitors."
"The letters between Glasheen and Kenner are animated by the persistent effort to understand Joyce’s language and references and the shared wish to advance an understanding of Joyce’s works. Above all … the letters are evidence of the 'unmitigated excitement, fun, and wonder they experienced as they glimpsed at the greatness and order of Joyce’s achievement.'"
"Glasheen’s extended correspondence with Kenner between 1953 and 1984, supremely edited and copiously annotated by Edward M. Burns and handsomely produced by University College Dublin Press, gives an atmospheric insight into the pioneering exploration of the Wake."
"Burns has gathered letters that record the creative conversations and collaborations of Glasheen and Kenner, two fascinating and active members of the Joyce community."
C. S. Kalish, University of Wisconsin
CHOICE Vol. 46 No. 5
"I am fairly confident that A Passion for Joyce makes fascinating reading for everyone and may well provoke passionate responses … [The collection] display[s] Adaline Glasheen’s wide-reaching correspondence, some of the atmosphere and mood, and, in particular, the enthusiasm of what we thought at the time were adventurous days … There is an air of pioneering efforts, of breaking into as yet uncharted territory, and a sense of discovery.
Edward M. Burns has once more proved a magnificent editor. His annotations are both meticulous and balanced: no source is left unturned, no quotation untraced … Someone reading all the notes attentively with their meticulous bibliography would become an expert."
James Joyce Literary Supplement
"The new collection will prove valuable for not only Joyceans, but also scholars investigating reception histories, textual criticism, and feminist scholarship in twentieth-century literature."
Jennifer Burns Levin
James Joyce Literary Supplement
"Adaline Glasheen (1920–1993) was a phenomenon. An MA in English from Washington University in St. Louis, turned Farmington, Connecticut housewife and mother, she began, in 1946, to ‘fiddle,’ with the proper names in Finnegans Wake, in their various punning and disguised manifestations and, within a few years, had produced the first version of her famed A Census of ‘Finnegans Wake’: An Index of the Characters and their Roles. The Census went through three editions and made Glasheen a major player in Joyce studies, although by her own insistence, she advanced no claim to be a Joyce critic, much less a literary historian or theorist.
In her own way, this self-made scholar was nothing if not ambitious, and by the 1970s, with Kenner’s help, she was contributing essays to Joyce collections and giving papers at international Joyce conferences. But because her concern was always with hard facts, with precise and often highly obscure information, Kenner seems to have confided in and trusted her as he did few other Joyceans (or, for that matter, Poundians); certainly, she became an important sounding board for his own studies of FW and Ulysses. Accordingly, the voluminous correspondence between these somewhat unlikely kindred spirits, meticulously edited by Edward M. Burns, whose annotations alone – a kind of ‘Census’ of Kenner’s own discoveries and evolving formulations about Joyce’s writing – are worth the price of this volume, makes for fascinating reading, even for those, like myself, who are not Joyce scholars.
Such Joyce lore, even though a good deal of it is absorbed into Kenner’s books, makes Burns’s edition of these letters a goldmine for scholars. Equally interesting, to my mind, is what the correspondence tells us about Kenner and the academic atmosphere of the time. In an early letter to Glasheen, Kenner refers, with considerable asperity, to Indiana University Press’s initial refusal to publish Dublin’s Joyce – ‘Two readers said there was nothing here at all they hadn’t known all along’ – and complains to his new friend of the academy’s demand for ‘remorseless publication.’ The notion of the illustrious Hugh Kenner ever having had difficulty getting into print will surprise reader…
One comes away, then, from Burns’s superb edition of this remarkable correspondence with mixed feelings. The elucidation of Joyce’s writings by both correspondents is very impressive, even as their contempt for anything beyond ‘hard’ scholarship can be problematic. Maybe the ‘burst of intellectual unreason’ Walton Litz is said to have predicted so gloomily is sometimes necessary, especially in the case of that mysterious echo chamber called Finnegans Wake."
Click on this link for the full review: Passion for Joyce reviewed by Marjorie Perloff Stanford University
Reviewed by Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University
4 November, 2009
'Edward M. Burns, the editor of this edition of the letters, is to be congratulated on the thoroughness of his notes.'
James Joyce Quarterly 48 (1) 2010