What does Ulysses have to say about the nature of fiction? Precisely because Joyce worked very hard to represent Dublin as accurately and meticulously as possible, Ulysses blurs an easy division between fact and fiction. This talk considers how one can discuss fictional entities in ways that make sense. Rather than settle upon a “possible worlds” approach to considering fiction, this talk looks at the advantages and disadvantages of what can be called endorsement: judging the truth of a statement about a fiction is simply a matter of determining whether the fiction endorses that statement. Instead of multiple (even infinite) possible worlds, a work of fiction occasions multiple possible endorsements precisely because any work of fiction is inherently incomplete and thus requires the initiatives of its readers to fill in its manifold gaps.
Like the eponymous Joyce scholar of the novel The Death of a Joyce Scholar, Sam Slote is a Professor at Trinity College Dublin and lives in the Liberties in Dublin. He is the author of Annotations to James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ (Oxford, 2022), Joyce’s Nietzschean Ethics (Palgrave, 2013), and is the co-editor, with Luca Crispi, of How Joyce Wrote ‘Finnegans Wake’ (Wisconsin, 2007). In addition to Joyce and Beckett, he has written on Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, Raymond Queneau, Antonin Artaud, Dante, Mallarmé, and Elvis.