Personal Correspondence: Account of Early "Oxen" Notesheet Sourcing
In the fall of 1966 I decided to write my doctoral thesis on "Oxen" (advisor: Bernard Benstock, Kent State University). In the course of reading, looking for a handle to say something new, I found a reference in Walt Litz's Art of James Joyce to the notesheets in the British Museum. A friend (Robert D. Stock, now at University of Nebraska-Lincoln), doing his own research at the British Museum on Shakespeare's critics, kindly arranged for full-size black-and-white copies of the "Oxen" notesheets to be mailed to me -- at the glorious price of $12! On the first notesheet I noticed the entry (1.40), "Indeed says he, Robin, that was his name." Knowing that Robin was not a character in Ulysses, I became curious and kept scanning. On the second notesheet, I found (2.16) "Cap. Jack was the same man." Fortunately, I had spent the previous few months reading randomly in authors who, according to 1966 information, were supposed to be in "Oxen" and, having recently taken an 18th-century seminar under a Defoe specialist, I heard an echo of Colonel Jack and started hunting through that text. The rest, as they say, is history. (Well, my scholarly history anyway.)
When Berni saw what I was doing, he put me in touch with Phil Herring and Weldon Thornton, both of whom had recently finished their dissertations (Thornton: 1961, University of Texas; Herring: 1966, University of Texas). I exchanged manuscripts with both, and both were kind enough to cite my work in their books. Phil's monumental transcription job was invaluable, of course, and I was able to help clarify some difficult entries by finding the source wording. (As I recall, Phil is the one who had color slides and projected them on the wall, I think, to be able to decipher them more easily.)
Not that it's at all important, but Hayashi's James Joyce: Research Opportunities (1985) lists Thornton's dissertation as #32 to be written on Joyce, Herring's as #55 and mine as #62. There must be thousands of them by now.
Robert Janusko, 10 February 2002
M. Downing's Transcription of the "Oxen of the Sun" Notesheets