Pg. 175 of David Markson’s copy of Joyce: The Man, the Work, the Reputation by Marvin Magalaner & Richard M. Kain:
     On which Markson placed an x and a check in the margins next to the following Joyce anecdote re: something he said to Al Laney (whose name Markson has also underlined):     “An acquaintance of Joyce in Paris during the early twenties has recalled to the author of the present study an unpublished anecdote, in which Joyce used a similar figure to describe his view of religion. Men, he said to Al Laney, then a correspondent for the Paris Herald, are like deep-sea fish, swimming in water that is mysteriously irradiated with light from above the surface but unable to rise to the surface to see—a characteristic figure in its grotesquerie and its relevance to Joyce’s own limited sight.”
—
     Swimming in water that is mysteriously irradiated with light from above the surface…
     “A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles, and is there one who understands me?”     From Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.     From Markson’s The Last Novel. (Pg. 187)
     Unable to rise to the surface to see…
     “Joyce had twenty-five operations on his eyes.”     According to Markson on pg. 67 of Reader’s Block.
     Its relevance to Joyce’s own limited sight…

     Pg. 175 of David Markson’s copy of Joyce: The Man, the Work, the Reputation by Marvin Magalaner & Richard M. Kain:

     On which Markson placed an x and a check in the margins next to the following Joyce anecdote re: something he said to Al Laney (whose name Markson has also underlined):
     “An acquaintance of Joyce in Paris during the early twenties has recalled to the author of the present study an unpublished anecdote, in which Joyce used a similar figure to describe his view of religion. Men, he said to Al Laney, then a correspondent for the Paris Herald, are like deep-sea fish, swimming in water that is mysteriously irradiated with light from above the surface but unable to rise to the surface to see—a characteristic figure in its grotesquerie and its relevance to Joyce’s own limited sight.”

     Swimming in water that is mysteriously irradiated with light from above the surface…

     “A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles, and is there one who understands me?”
     From Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
     From Markson’s The Last Novel. (Pg. 187)

     Unable to rise to the surface to see…

     “Joyce had twenty-five operations on his eyes.”
     According to Markson on pg. 67 of Reader’s Block.

     Its relevance to Joyce’s own limited sight…

     Pg. 479 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):
     On which Markson placed checks in the margin next to various works on Joyce in the book’s bibliography. (Presumably next to the books he owned?)
     Also: On which Markson wrote next to a mention of William York Tindall’s Forces in Modern British Literature 1885-1946 (which I own Markson’s copy of):     “Also: James Joyce”
—
     On pg. 55 of David Markson’s Vanishing Point:     “There are no English critics of weight or judgment who consider Mr. Joyce an author of any importance.     Said Edmund Gosse, two years after the publication of Ulysses.”
     Just using Markson’s own personal library Edmund Gosse can be proven wrong.
     “I have a shelf and a half of Joyce scholarship.”     Explained Markson in an interview with Alexander Laurence.
     The Joyce Industry, even almost 90 years after the publication of Ulysses, is alive and well.     And there’s one major reason for that:
     “I have to say that Ulysses holds up: it’s a great book. Joyce does everything.”     Markson said further on in that Alexander Laurence interview.

     Pg. 479 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):

     On which Markson placed checks in the margin next to various works on Joyce in the book’s bibliography. (Presumably next to the books he owned?)

     Also: On which Markson wrote next to a mention of William York Tindall’s Forces in Modern British Literature 1885-1946 (which I own Markson’s copy of):
     “Also: James Joyce

     On pg. 55 of David Markson’s Vanishing Point:
     “There are no English critics of weight or judgment who consider Mr. Joyce an author of any importance.
     Said Edmund Gosse, two years after the publication of Ulysses.”

     Just using Markson’s own personal library Edmund Gosse can be proven wrong.

     “I have a shelf and a half of Joyce scholarship.”
     Explained Markson in an interview with Alexander Laurence.

     The Joyce Industry, even almost 90 years after the publication of Ulysses, is alive and well.
     And there’s one major reason for that:

     “I have to say that Ulysses holds up: it’s a great book. Joyce does everything.”
     Markson said further on in that Alexander Laurence interview.

     Pg. 205 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):
     On which Markson placed a check next to this sentence re: Joyce’s Ulysses:     “The influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy is not so obvious, yet I think that it is perfectly demonstrable.”
—
     Joyce on Dante, courtesy of Markson:     “Dante tires one quickly; it is like looking at the sun.     Said Joyce.”     - Vanishing Point, pg. 137.
     Earlier in the Notecard Quartet, on pg. 53 of Reader’s Block, Markson wrote:     “Il maestro di color che sanno.”     Which means:     “The master of the men who know.”     This is from Dante on Aristotle in The Divine Comedy.     It is also used in Joyce’s Ulysses.
     The influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy is not so obvious, yet I think that it is perfectly demonstrable.
     The master of the men who know.

     Pg. 205 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):

     On which Markson placed a check next to this sentence re: Joyce’s Ulysses:
     “The influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy is not so obvious, yet I think that it is perfectly demonstrable.”

     Joyce on Dante, courtesy of Markson:
     “Dante tires one quickly; it is like looking at the sun.
     Said Joyce.”
     - Vanishing Point, pg. 137.

     Earlier in the Notecard Quartet, on pg. 53 of Reader’s Block, Markson wrote:
     “Il maestro di color che sanno.”
     Which means:
     “The master of the men who know.”
     This is from Dante on Aristotle in The Divine Comedy.
     It is also used in Joyce’s Ulysses.

     The influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy is not so obvious, yet I think that it is perfectly demonstrable.

     The master of the men who know.

     Pg. 464 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):
     On which Markson placed a check next to the following information:     “A passage in Mr. Frank Budgen’s fascinating reminiscences of Joyce at the time when Ulysses was in the making (in Zurich, 1915-1919), entitled James Joyce and the Making of ‘Ulysses,' illustrates the extreme care with which Joyce not only chose his words but ordered their arrangement.      I enquired about Ulysses. Was it progressing?      ‘I have been working hard on it all day,’ said Joyce.”
—
     James Joyce’s “extreme care” in writing, his meticulous working and reworking of sentences, is well-known.
     In Markson’s last novel The Last Novel, the “Novelist” seems incensed by accusations that Joyce’s style in Ulysses is “diarrheic.”
     “Anyone who would employ the word diarrheic to describe a book as exactingly crafted in every line as Ulysses has either never read eleven consecutive words or possesses the literary perception of a rutabaga.     Ulysses Diarrheic, unquote. Dale Peck.”     - The Last Novel, pg. 168.
     For Markson, and for myself, it is its preciseness of language that makes Ulysses worth continual rereads.
     As Markson said of Ulysses in his Bookslut interview:     “I can always reread Ulysses. In fact I went through it twice, consecutively, just a few years ago. But hell, that’s not like reading a novel, it’s more like reading the King James Bible. Or Shakespeare. You’re at it for the language.”
     Markson even mentioned on pg. 91 of Vanishing Point:     “Joyce said he spent twenty thousand hours writing Ulysses.”
     Twenty thousand hours?
     Sounds ridiculous. But, somehow, I believe it.
     You’re at it for the language.

     Pg. 464 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):

     On which Markson placed a check next to the following information:
     “A passage in Mr. Frank Budgen’s fascinating reminiscences of Joyce at the time when Ulysses was in the making (in Zurich, 1915-1919), entitled James Joyce and the Making of ‘Ulysses,' illustrates the extreme care with which Joyce not only chose his words but ordered their arrangement.
     I enquired about Ulysses. Was it progressing?
     ‘I have been working hard on it all day,’ said Joyce.”

     James Joyce’s “extreme care” in writing, his meticulous working and reworking of sentences, is well-known.

     In Markson’s last novel The Last Novel, the “Novelist” seems incensed by accusations that Joyce’s style in Ulysses is “diarrheic.”

     “Anyone who would employ the word diarrheic to describe a book as exactingly crafted in every line as Ulysses has either never read eleven consecutive words or possesses the literary perception of a rutabaga.
     Ulysses Diarrheic, unquote. Dale Peck.”
     - The Last Novel, pg. 168.

     For Markson, and for myself, it is its preciseness of language that makes Ulysses worth continual rereads.

     As Markson said of Ulysses in his Bookslut interview:
     “I can always reread Ulysses. In fact I went through it twice, consecutively, just a few years ago. But hell, that’s not like reading a novel, it’s more like reading the King James Bible. Or Shakespeare. You’re at it for the language.”

     Markson even mentioned on pg. 91 of Vanishing Point:
     “Joyce said he spent twenty thousand hours writing Ulysses.”

     Twenty thousand hours?

     Sounds ridiculous. But, somehow, I believe it.

     You’re at it for the language.

     The inside back cover of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):
     On which Markson wrote:     “See Wm. Empson     = Kenyon Rev., Winter 1956”
—
     In the Winter 1956 edition of the Kenyon Review, William Empson wrote a piece called “The Theme of Ulysses.”
      The same William Empson, I might add, mentioned by Markson on pg. 146 of his novel Vanishing Point:     “William Empson: You could do that with any poetry, couldn’t you?     I. A. Richards: You’d better go off and do it, hadn’t you?”
     And also mentioned elsewhere on pg. 16 of his The Last Novel:     “I was much impressed by the chalk-white face with the swollen purple lips, and felt confident he had been brooding over the Crucifixion all night, or some other holy torture.     Said William Empson re sightings of Eliot, ca. 1930.”
     Wm. Empson’s “The Theme of Ulysses"…
     Which appeared in the Kenyon Review, where also, years later, in 2010, upon Markson’s death, an interesting piece by William Walsh was published, entitled “Dead Beat,” which is an “excised narrative” that Marksonizes Markson’s early detective novel Epitaph for a Dead Beat, bringing out of the original text certain themes and styles that Markson would later focus on in his Notecard Quartet.

     The inside back cover of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):

     On which Markson wrote:
     “See Wm. Empson
     = Kenyon Rev., Winter 1956”

     In the Winter 1956 edition of the Kenyon Review, William Empson wrote a piece called “The Theme of Ulysses.”

      The same William Empson, I might add, mentioned by Markson on pg. 146 of his novel Vanishing Point:
     “William Empson: You could do that with any poetry, couldn’t you?
     I. A. Richards: You’d better go off and do it, hadn’t you?”

     And also mentioned elsewhere on pg. 16 of his The Last Novel:
     “I was much impressed by the chalk-white face with the swollen purple lips, and felt confident he had been brooding over the Crucifixion all night, or some other holy torture.
     Said William Empson re sightings of Eliot, ca. 1930.”

     Wm. Empson’s “The Theme of Ulysses"…

     Which appeared in the Kenyon Review, where also, years later, in 2010, upon Markson’s death, an interesting piece by William Walsh was published, entitled “Dead Beat,” which is an “excised narrative” that Marksonizes Markson’s early detective novel Epitaph for a Dead Beat, bringing out of the original text certain themes and styles that Markson would later focus on in his Notecard Quartet.

     Pg. 340 of David Markson’s copy of Forces in Modern British Literature: 1885-1946 by William York Tindall:
     On which Marksonunderlines the names “Bruno” and “Vico,” making lines out to the margins that connect:     Bruno with “Opposites.”     And Vico with “Cycles.”
—
     The theories of Bruno and Vico, and their relation to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, are explored by Samuel Beckett in his early defense of Joyce’sWork in Progress titled “Dante…Bruno. Vico..Joyce.”
     “Dante…Bruno. Vico..Joyce.” was published amongst a number of other defenses of Joyce’s Work in Progress / Finnegans Wake in the book Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress (the title of which is mentioned on pg. 183 of Markson’s Reader’s Block).
     Simplified, as Markson’s notes make it in the margins, Bruno’s theories can be represented by “opposites,” or contraries, and Vico’s by “cycles.”
     Joyce plays with opposites and cycles, as Markson does in his writing a well.
     Yet, as Beckett says in the beginning of that defense of Joyce:     “The danger is in the neatness of identifications.”
     As Markson noted on pg. 13 of The Last Novel:     “He is not writing about something; he is writing something.      Said Samuel Beckett re Joyce.”
     The full quote from Beckett goes something like this:     “You cannot complain that this stuff is not written in English. It is not written at all. It is not to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to. His writing is not about something. It is that something itself.”
     It is to be looked at and listened to.
     At the end of his study on Lowry, Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning, Markson has a reminiscence of Lowry as an appendix.     In it one finds this gem re: Lowry:     “He shakes his head wistfully over a copy of Finnegans Wake: ‘I did not give this as much time as I should have.” (Pg. 226)
     Not enough looking at and listening to?
     He is not writing about something; he is writing something.

     Pg. 340 of David Markson’s copy of Forces in Modern British Literature: 1885-1946 by William York Tindall:

     On which Marksonunderlines the names “Bruno” and “Vico,” making lines out to the margins that connect:
     Bruno with “Opposites.”
     And Vico with “Cycles.”

     The theories of Bruno and Vico, and their relation to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, are explored by Samuel Beckett in his early defense of Joyce’sWork in Progress titled “Dante…Bruno. Vico..Joyce.”

     “Dante…Bruno. Vico..Joyce.” was published amongst a number of other defenses of Joyce’s Work in Progress / Finnegans Wake in the book Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress (the title of which is mentioned on pg. 183 of Markson’s Reader’s Block).

     Simplified, as Markson’s notes make it in the margins, Bruno’s theories can be represented by “opposites,” or contraries, and Vico’s by “cycles.”

     Joyce plays with opposites and cycles, as Markson does in his writing a well.

     Yet, as Beckett says in the beginning of that defense of Joyce:
     “The danger is in the neatness of identifications.”

     As Markson noted on pg. 13 of The Last Novel:
     “He is not writing about something; he is writing something.
     Said Samuel Beckett re Joyce.”

     The full quote from Beckett goes something like this:
     “You cannot complain that this stuff is not written in English. It is not written at all. It is not to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to. His writing is not about something. It is that something itself.”

     It is to be looked at and listened to.

     At the end of his study on Lowry, Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning, Markson has a reminiscence of Lowry as an appendix.
     In it one finds this gem re: Lowry:
     “He shakes his head wistfully over a copy of Finnegans Wake: ‘I did not give this as much time as I should have.” (Pg. 226)

     Not enough looking at and listening to?

     He is not writing about something; he is writing something.

     Pg. 99 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: His Way Of Interpreting The Modern World by William York Tindall:
     On which Markson placed a line and arrow in the margin next to a paragraph that begins:     “Myth is the most difficult thing in the world. One man’s definition contradicts another’s, but most definers agree that since myth is pre-logical, it all but evades our thought. Many with whom Joyce was familiar—Vico, Frazer, Jung, and Lévy-Bruhl—had theories about myth. Let us consider what it is they thought.”
—
     The concept of “myth” and its relation to literature underlies much of Markson’s theories on one of his favorite novels, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano—theories which are expounded upon in his study of that book Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning.
     From Markson’s introduction to that book, where, like Tindall in the above book, he discusses myth, literature, and Joyce (part of which I’ve quotes previously):     “‘Brave men lived before Agamemnon,’ ventured Horace, but Horace was only guessing. If today we can document the fact, it is the ‘mythic’ artist, more profoundly than any archaeologist or anthropologist, who will project this timeless ‘shared’ continuity of human experience.     By ‘myth’ in this context is meant any prototypal image, of course. An inconsequential sixteenth-century necromancer called Johannes (or George) Faust, after his paradigmatic literary transformations, has come to exemplify man’s darker broodings as readily as does Tiresias, though the latter is far more truly ‘mythic.’ Very little myth is ‘pure’ anyway, in the sense of originating in primitive religious ritual; the most viable of the Greek myths are to be found in Ovid, which is to say they are literature, and not even Greek literature. What matters is the way such usage reaffirms man’s unvarying estate.     That bell strikes: ‘dolente…dolore!’ Once it does we are missing a point—and it is a point that is undeniably seminal—if we fail to perceive that Lowry’s Mexican ‘selva’ is also Dante’s, or that his abyss is an immemorial Inferno.     Joyce, here, is the master, Ulysses the watershed. But even Homer nods; and it is ironic that such few reservations we maintain about Ulysses may arise from the very direction its author chose to pursue in his own mythic interpolations.     Joyce more than one remarked, for example, that his identification with of Leopold Bloom with Odysseus occurred because the latter is literature’s ‘complete man.’ Yet Bloom is not Odysseus solely; almost as if in afterthought he is equated with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or again with Christ. And it was through these ‘incidental’ parallels that Joyce took a clue from himself, as it were, in establishing the far more inclusive mythic scheme of Finnegans Wake. There we have no single predominating mythic analogy. The dreaming H. C. Earwicker is the legendary Irish figrue Finn MacCool to be sure, but by deliberate extension he is an incalculable number of others from Moses to Dean Swift—‘Here Comes Everybody,’ as his initials proclaim. The concept remains immensely provocative: Any man’s myth increases me, for I am ‘Mankinde.’” (Pgs. 2-3)

     Pg. 99 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: His Way Of Interpreting The Modern World by William York Tindall:

     On which Markson placed a line and arrow in the margin next to a paragraph that begins:
     “Myth is the most difficult thing in the world. One man’s definition contradicts another’s, but most definers agree that since myth is pre-logical, it all but evades our thought. Many with whom Joyce was familiar—Vico, Frazer, Jung, and Lévy-Bruhl—had theories about myth. Let us consider what it is they thought.”

     The concept of “myth” and its relation to literature underlies much of Markson’s theories on one of his favorite novels, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano—theories which are expounded upon in his study of that book Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning.

     From Markson’s introduction to that book, where, like Tindall in the above book, he discusses myth, literature, and Joyce (part of which I’ve quotes previously):
     “‘Brave men lived before Agamemnon,’ ventured Horace, but Horace was only guessing. If today we can document the fact, it is the ‘mythic’ artist, more profoundly than any archaeologist or anthropologist, who will project this timeless ‘shared’ continuity of human experience.
     By ‘myth’ in this context is meant any prototypal image, of course. An inconsequential sixteenth-century necromancer called Johannes (or George) Faust, after his paradigmatic literary transformations, has come to exemplify man’s darker broodings as readily as does Tiresias, though the latter is far more truly ‘mythic.’ Very little myth is ‘pure’ anyway, in the sense of originating in primitive religious ritual; the most viable of the Greek myths are to be found in Ovid, which is to say they are literature, and not even Greek literature. What matters is the way such usage reaffirms man’s unvarying estate.
     That bell strikes: ‘dolente…dolore!’ Once it does we are missing a point—and it is a point that is undeniably seminal—if we fail to perceive that Lowry’s Mexican ‘selva’ is also Dante’s, or that his abyss is an immemorial Inferno.
     Joyce, here, is the master, Ulysses the watershed. But even Homer nods; and it is ironic that such few reservations we maintain about Ulysses may arise from the very direction its author chose to pursue in his own mythic interpolations.
     Joyce more than one remarked, for example, that his identification with of Leopold Bloom with Odysseus occurred because the latter is literature’s ‘complete man.’ Yet Bloom is not Odysseus solely; almost as if in afterthought he is equated with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or again with Christ. And it was through these ‘incidental’ parallels that Joyce took a clue from himself, as it were, in establishing the far more inclusive mythic scheme of Finnegans Wake. There we have no single predominating mythic analogy. The dreaming H. C. Earwicker is the legendary Irish figrue Finn MacCool to be sure, but by deliberate extension he is an incalculable number of others from Moses to Dean Swift—‘Here Comes Everybody,’ as his initials proclaim. The concept remains immensely provocative: Any man’s myth increases me, for I am ‘Mankinde.’” (Pgs. 2-3)

     Pg. 343 of David Markson’s copy of Forces in Modern British Literature: 1885-1946 by William York Tindall:
     On which Markson underlined parts of the following sentence about Joyce’s Finnagans Wake:     “Its subject is what is most important: man, woman, love, and children, death and resurrection, sin and repentance, sleeping and waking, and the preoccupations of modern man, time, space, relativity, flux, and the unconscious.”
—
     “A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles, and is there one who understands me?”     A quote from Finnegans Wake.     That appears in Markson’s The Last Novel on pg. 187.
     As Markson (on pg. 13 of his The Last Novel) describes Beckett describing Finnegans Wake:      “He is not writing about something; he is writing something.      Said Samuel Beckett re Joyce.”
     Markson on Finnegans Wake in his study of Lowry (Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning, pgs. 3-4):     “Joyce more than one remarked, for example, that his identification with of Leopold Bloom with Odysseus occurred because the latter is literature’s ‘complete man.’ Yet Bloom is not Odysseus solely; almost as if in afterthought he is equated with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or again with Christ. And it was through these ‘incidental’ parallels that Joyce took a clue from himself, as it were, in establishing the far more inclusive mythic scheme of Finnegans Wake. There we have no single predominating mythic analogy. The dreaming H. C. Earwicker is the legendary Irish figure Finn MacCool to be sure, but by deliberate extension he is an incalculable number of others from Moses to Dean Swift—‘Here Comes Everybody,’ as his initials proclaim. The concept remains immensely provocative: Any man’s myth increases me, for I am ‘Mankinde.’     But was Earwicker’s improbable dream necessary? Foregoing traditional chronology, much of contemporary writing demands to be read as we look at a mural: where individual stanzas or even lines may bear no immediate relationship to those nearest them, they hold their decisive, reflexive place in the whole when viewed spatially. Yet with a volume the length of Finnegans Wake, such perception requires a kind of intellectual peripheral vision. A perspective can certainly be achieved, nor does it cost that lifetime of dedication Joyce half-seriously asked of the ideal reader. Nonetheless Joyce’s own shifting focus begs the question: if the ‘multimythic’ richness of Finnegans Wake is what the novelist is after, must he cease to be novelist? Can this wealth of prototypal allusion, which after all evokes nothing if not the essence of man’s creative tradition—which is man—be integrated into a fictional form that is itself traditional?     After Joyce, it can.”
     Markson, on pg. 140 of his novel Reader’s Block, mentions Finnegans Wake in a reference to an explanation as to what the book (Reader’s Block) might be:     “Also in part a distant cousin innumerable times removed of A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake?     Obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax in any case.”
     Markson later says of This Is Not A Novel, on pg. 185 of This Is Not A Novel, when listening things that book might possibly be:     “Or even his synthetic personal Finnegans Wake, if Writer so decides.”
     “It cannot be disguised from the reader that, however light and gay, this book is difficult.”     The above scan says before the part Markson underlined.
     A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles, and is there one who understands me?

     Pg. 343 of David Markson’s copy of Forces in Modern British Literature: 1885-1946 by William York Tindall:

     On which Markson underlined parts of the following sentence about Joyce’s Finnagans Wake:
     “Its subject is what is most important: man, woman, love, and children, death and resurrection, sin and repentance, sleeping and waking, and the preoccupations of modern man, time, space, relativity, flux, and the unconscious.”

     “A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles, and is there one who understands me?”
     A quote from Finnegans Wake.
     That appears in Markson’s The Last Novel on pg. 187.

     As Markson (on pg. 13 of his The Last Novel) describes Beckett describing Finnegans Wake:
     “He is not writing about something; he is writing something.
     Said Samuel Beckett re Joyce.”

     Markson on Finnegans Wake in his study of Lowry (Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning, pgs. 3-4):
     “Joyce more than one remarked, for example, that his identification with of Leopold Bloom with Odysseus occurred because the latter is literature’s ‘complete man.’ Yet Bloom is not Odysseus solely; almost as if in afterthought he is equated with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or again with Christ. And it was through these ‘incidental’ parallels that Joyce took a clue from himself, as it were, in establishing the far more inclusive mythic scheme of Finnegans Wake. There we have no single predominating mythic analogy. The dreaming H. C. Earwicker is the legendary Irish figure Finn MacCool to be sure, but by deliberate extension he is an incalculable number of others from Moses to Dean Swift—‘Here Comes Everybody,’ as his initials proclaim. The concept remains immensely provocative: Any man’s myth increases me, for I am ‘Mankinde.’
     But was Earwicker’s improbable dream necessary? Foregoing traditional chronology, much of contemporary writing demands to be read as we look at a mural: where individual stanzas or even lines may bear no immediate relationship to those nearest them, they hold their decisive, reflexive place in the whole when viewed spatially. Yet with a volume the length of Finnegans Wake, such perception requires a kind of intellectual peripheral vision. A perspective can certainly be achieved, nor does it cost that lifetime of dedication Joyce half-seriously asked of the ideal reader. Nonetheless Joyce’s own shifting focus begs the question: if the ‘multimythic’ richness of Finnegans Wake is what the novelist is after, must he cease to be novelist? Can this wealth of prototypal allusion, which after all evokes nothing if not the essence of man’s creative tradition—which is man—be integrated into a fictional form that is itself traditional?
     After Joyce, it can.”

     Markson, on pg. 140 of his novel Reader’s Block, mentions Finnegans Wake in a reference to an explanation as to what the book (Reader’s Block) might be:
     “Also in part a distant cousin innumerable times removed of A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake?
     Obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax in any case.”

     Markson later says of This Is Not A Novel, on pg. 185 of This Is Not A Novel, when listening things that book might possibly be:
     “Or even his synthetic personal Finnegans Wake, if Writer so decides.”

     “It cannot be disguised from the reader that, however light and gay, this book is difficult.”
     The above scan says before the part Markson underlined.

     A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles, and is there one who understands me?



     Pg. 173 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:
     On which David Markson wrote “oh bullshit” in the margins in response to a comment by Prater comparing the difficulties of reading Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge to those of reading Joyce’s Ulysses:     “With Malte Laurids Brigge, in the form he had chosen of heterogeneous and disconnected passages in a notebook, he had gone to another extreme, with an esoteric composition as difficult for the reader to follow in its allusiveness as that of Joyce would be—an anti-novel before its time.”
—
     Ulysses, to Markson, was something special. It’s not that books like Malte Laurids Brigge weren’t novels worthy of praise, but more that, to him, nothing seemed comparable to Joyce’s masterpiece, which he maintained was the only fiction book that in his old age he felt compelled to continue to re-read.
     As Markson explained in a 1996 interview with Alexander Laurence:      “I don’t read fiction anymore because it bores me. It’s like that line in Paul Valery that’s quoted in Reader’s Block: ‘He couldn’t write a novel because he couldn’t put down ‘The Marquis went out at five.” The minute I read ‘Joe walked across the street to say hello to Charlie’ I’m bored. Books that I loved, I can’t get into again. Sometimes it’s 30 or 40 years later. So I said let me see with Ulysses, it’s about time. Then I read it once and cursed about how much I didn’t get, or didn’t understand, and had to look up words, and then I read it a second time and felt I had mastered it. I was exchanging letters with Gilbert Sorrentino and we were asking each other ‘I wonder what Joyce meant by this’ or ‘I can’t solve this.’ I have a shelf and a half of Joyce scholarship, and I read most of it over the years, and the stuff that Sorrentino and I were asking each other weren’t solved there either. I have to say that Ulysses holds up: it’s a great book. Joyce does everything. I love the complexities. I don’t want to make a bad joke but anyone can write Crime and Punishment.”
     Ulysses, to Markson, was the book that earned its re-readings by continually rewarding the re-reader by re-puzzling him, by making him look at things in a new light, by always offering some new view or some new mystery—by allowing language to be something magical, something more. In Ulysses, Joyce is not so much a writer, more an acrobat, performing difficult tricks in language, and somehow pulling each off brilliantly.
     What Markson seemed to love about Ulysses is that it is “alive with the pleasures of language.”     (A line Jonathan Yardley actually wrote of Markson’s Springer’s Progress.)
     It’s not that Markson doesn’t respect Malte Laurids Brigge when he writes “oh bullshit” in the margins, but that, to him, saying that Rilke’s book is “as difficult for the reader to follow in its allusiveness as that of Joyce would be” warrants some major marginal skepticism.
     “I can always reread Ulysses. In fact I went through it twice, consecutively, just a few years ago. But hell, that’s not like reading a novel, it’s more like reading the King James Bible. Or Shakespeare. You’re at it for the language.”     (From his Bookslut interview.)
     Alive with the pleasures of language.
—
     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 173 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:

     On which David Markson wrote “oh bullshit” in the margins in response to a comment by Prater comparing the difficulties of reading Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge to those of reading Joyce’s Ulysses:
     “With Malte Laurids Brigge, in the form he had chosen of heterogeneous and disconnected passages in a notebook, he had gone to another extreme, with an esoteric composition as difficult for the reader to follow in its allusiveness as that of Joyce would be—an anti-novel before its time.”

     Ulysses, to Markson, was something special. It’s not that books like Malte Laurids Brigge weren’t novels worthy of praise, but more that, to him, nothing seemed comparable to Joyce’s masterpiece, which he maintained was the only fiction book that in his old age he felt compelled to continue to re-read.

     As Markson explained in a 1996 interview with Alexander Laurence:
     “I don’t read fiction anymore because it bores me. It’s like that line in Paul Valery that’s quoted in Reader’s Block: ‘He couldn’t write a novel because he couldn’t put down ‘The Marquis went out at five.” The minute I read ‘Joe walked across the street to say hello to Charlie’ I’m bored. Books that I loved, I can’t get into again. Sometimes it’s 30 or 40 years later. So I said let me see with Ulysses, it’s about time. Then I read it once and cursed about how much I didn’t get, or didn’t understand, and had to look up words, and then I read it a second time and felt I had mastered it. I was exchanging letters with Gilbert Sorrentino and we were asking each other ‘I wonder what Joyce meant by this’ or ‘I can’t solve this.’ I have a shelf and a half of Joyce scholarship, and I read most of it over the years, and the stuff that Sorrentino and I were asking each other weren’t solved there either. I have to say that Ulysses holds up: it’s a great book. Joyce does everything. I love the complexities. I don’t want to make a bad joke but anyone can write Crime and Punishment.”

     Ulysses, to Markson, was the book that earned its re-readings by continually rewarding the re-reader by re-puzzling him, by making him look at things in a new light, by always offering some new view or some new mystery—by allowing language to be something magical, something more. In Ulysses, Joyce is not so much a writer, more an acrobat, performing difficult tricks in language, and somehow pulling each off brilliantly.

     What Markson seemed to love about Ulysses is that it is “alive with the pleasures of language.”
     (A line Jonathan Yardley actually wrote of Markson’s Springer’s Progress.)

     It’s not that Markson doesn’t respect Malte Laurids Brigge when he writes “oh bullshit” in the margins, but that, to him, saying that Rilke’s book is “as difficult for the reader to follow in its allusiveness as that of Joyce would be” warrants some major marginal skepticism.

     “I can always reread Ulysses. In fact I went through it twice, consecutively, just a few years ago. But hell, that’s not like reading a novel, it’s more like reading the King James Bible. Or Shakespeare. You’re at it for the language.”
     (From his Bookslut interview.)

     Alive with the pleasures of language.

     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 3 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: His Way Of Interpreting The Modern World by William York Tindall:
     On which Markson underlined Malcolm Lowry’s name and placed a check next to it in the following sentence:     “But almost all our important novelists—Steinbeck, Faulkner, Malcolm Lowry, and Dos Passos—have drawn freely upon Joyce.”
—
     This Lowry-Joyce connection Markson had mined in his introduction to his study of Lowry’s Under the Volcano titled: Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning:     “Joyce, here, is the master, Ulysses the watershed. But even Homer nods; and it is ironic that such few reservations we maintain about Ulysses may arise from the very direction its author chose to pursue in his own mythic interpolations.     Joyce more than one remarked, for example, that his identification with of Leopold Bloom with Odysseus occurred because the latter is literature’s ‘complete man.’ Yet Bloom is not Odysseus solely; almost as if in afterthought he is equated with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or again with Christ. And it was through these ‘incidental’ parallels that Joyce took a clue from himself, as it were, in establishing the far more inclusive mythic scheme of Finnegans Wake. There we have no single predominating mythic analogy. The dreaming H. C. Earwicker is the legendary Irish figrue Finn MacCool to be sure, but by deliberate extension he is an incalculable number of others from Moses to Dean Swift—‘Here Comes Everybody,’ as his initials proclaim. The concept remains immensely provocative: Any man’s myth increases me, for I am ‘Mankinde.’     But was Earwicker’s improbable dream necessary? Foregoing traditional chronology, much of contemporary writing demands to be read as we look at a mural: where individual stanzas or even lines may bear no immediate relationship to those nearest them, they hold their decisive, reflexive place in the whole when viewed spatially. Yet with a volume the length of Finnegans Wake, such perception requires a kind of intellectual peripheral vision. A perspective can certainly be achieved, nor does it cost that lifetime of dedication Joyce half-seriously asked of the ideal reader. Nonetheless Joyce’s own shifting focus begs the question: if the ‘multimythic’ richness of Finnegans Wake is what the novelist is after, must he cease to be novelist? Can this wealth of prototypal allusion, which after all evokes nothing if not the essence of man’s creative tradition—which is man—be integrated into a fictional form that is itself traditional?     After Joyce, it can. The guilt of the protagonist of Under the Volcano is that of Adam after expulsion, his agony that of Christ at Golgotha, his frailty Don Quixote’s. Through degrees of highly specific analogy Lowry’s hero so to speak ‘becomes’ Faust, Dante, Prometheus, Heracles, Buddha, Oedipus. He is Aeneas, Hamlet, Noah, Judas, Prospero, Narcissus, Trotsky, Macbeth, Shelley, Scrooge, Quetzalcoatl, Bix Beiderbecke, Candide, Moses, and Gogol’s Tchitchikov—if not to add Peter Rabbit and the Fisher King, among many more. There is even a touch of Alice in his makeup, and at one juncture, as if to assert that one man’s myth scarcely need become another’s poison, he boldly enacts a Homeric parallel of his own. Each of these projections vastly amplifies the meanings of Lowry’s narrative, but—and this remains crucial—that narrative does exist, with its own organic structure, its cohesive surface sequence. Such identities are proclaimed only through allusion or metaphor integral to the contextual reality of the book itself, and even when length equations of ‘episode’ are created, again Lowry’s surface is not distorted. The mythic content is there, and then some; but Under the Volcano remains always a novel first of all, with its own profoundly dramatic literal impact.     In fact it is a paradoxical tribute to the richness of Lowry’s achievement, because if this very indivisibility of surface and symbol, that even where he is most unstintingly praised he is often less than perceived. Inevitably, Joyce does become the basis of comparison, but only insofar as Under the Volcano occurs within the frame of a single day, that it makes use of interior monologue, that it is characterized by pun and verbal excess and what far too many otherwise sophisticated readers still think are ‘literary references.’” (Pgs. 3-5)

     Pg. 3 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: His Way Of Interpreting The Modern World by William York Tindall:

     On which Markson underlined Malcolm Lowry’s name and placed a check next to it in the following sentence:
     “But almost all our important novelists—Steinbeck, Faulkner, Malcolm Lowry, and Dos Passos—have drawn freely upon Joyce.”

     This Lowry-Joyce connection Markson had mined in his introduction to his study of Lowry’s Under the Volcano titled: Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning:
     “Joyce, here, is the master, Ulysses the watershed. But even Homer nods; and it is ironic that such few reservations we maintain about Ulysses may arise from the very direction its author chose to pursue in his own mythic interpolations.
     Joyce more than one remarked, for example, that his identification with of Leopold Bloom with Odysseus occurred because the latter is literature’s ‘complete man.’ Yet Bloom is not Odysseus solely; almost as if in afterthought he is equated with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or again with Christ. And it was through these ‘incidental’ parallels that Joyce took a clue from himself, as it were, in establishing the far more inclusive mythic scheme of Finnegans Wake. There we have no single predominating mythic analogy. The dreaming H. C. Earwicker is the legendary Irish figrue Finn MacCool to be sure, but by deliberate extension he is an incalculable number of others from Moses to Dean Swift—‘Here Comes Everybody,’ as his initials proclaim. The concept remains immensely provocative: Any man’s myth increases me, for I am ‘Mankinde.’
     But was Earwicker’s improbable dream necessary? Foregoing traditional chronology, much of contemporary writing demands to be read as we look at a mural: where individual stanzas or even lines may bear no immediate relationship to those nearest them, they hold their decisive, reflexive place in the whole when viewed spatially. Yet with a volume the length of Finnegans Wake, such perception requires a kind of intellectual peripheral vision. A perspective can certainly be achieved, nor does it cost that lifetime of dedication Joyce half-seriously asked of the ideal reader. Nonetheless Joyce’s own shifting focus begs the question: if the ‘multimythic’ richness of Finnegans Wake is what the novelist is after, must he cease to be novelist? Can this wealth of prototypal allusion, which after all evokes nothing if not the essence of man’s creative tradition—which is man—be integrated into a fictional form that is itself traditional?
     After Joyce, it can. The guilt of the protagonist of Under the Volcano is that of Adam after expulsion, his agony that of Christ at Golgotha, his frailty Don Quixote’s. Through degrees of highly specific analogy Lowry’s hero so to speak ‘becomes’ Faust, Dante, Prometheus, Heracles, Buddha, Oedipus. He is Aeneas, Hamlet, Noah, Judas, Prospero, Narcissus, Trotsky, Macbeth, Shelley, Scrooge, Quetzalcoatl, Bix Beiderbecke, Candide, Moses, and Gogol’s Tchitchikov—if not to add Peter Rabbit and the Fisher King, among many more. There is even a touch of Alice in his makeup, and at one juncture, as if to assert that one man’s myth scarcely need become another’s poison, he boldly enacts a Homeric parallel of his own. Each of these projections vastly amplifies the meanings of Lowry’s narrative, but—and this remains crucial—that narrative does exist, with its own organic structure, its cohesive surface sequence. Such identities are proclaimed only through allusion or metaphor integral to the contextual reality of the book itself, and even when length equations of ‘episode’ are created, again Lowry’s surface is not distorted. The mythic content is there, and then some; but Under the Volcano remains always a novel first of all, with its own profoundly dramatic literal impact.
     In fact it is a paradoxical tribute to the richness of Lowry’s achievement, because if this very indivisibility of surface and symbol, that even where he is most unstintingly praised he is often less than perceived. Inevitably, Joyce does become the basis of comparison, but only insofar as Under the Volcano occurs within the frame of a single day, that it makes use of interior monologue, that it is characterized by pun and verbal excess and what far too many otherwise sophisticated readers still think are ‘literary references.’” (Pgs. 3-5)