The existence of Armand Petitjean’s Essay on the Situation of Joyce was known to the author’s closest circle, but it has remained unpublished to this day, to the regret of Joyceans. The publication of this text from the beginning of the 1930s provides us with essential information on the genesis of Work in Progress / Finnegans Wake and on the Joycean community in Paris. A historical overview, analysis, commentary and annotations make up the rest of this volume, which presents unpublished material such as letters from Sylvia Beach, T. S. Eliot, Richard Ellmann, Valery Larbaud, Charles Du Bos, Jean Ballard, Auguste Bréal, Maria Jolas, Stéphanie Chandler, Aline Mayrisch-de Saint Hubert, Victoria Ocampo, Louis Gillet, Georges Pelorson, Emeric Fiser, Jean Gosset, Ettore Settanni and Armand Petitjean himself, as well as extracts from his unpublished autobiography.
Armand Petitjean (1913– 2003), the author of this unpublished essay, was an intellectual and critic whose work has not yet received full recognition for its depth and significance. Between 1933 and 1935 Petitjean produced a typescript in English called Essay on the Situation of Joyce, which Joyce himself described as “an amazing study of W[ork]. I[n]. P[rogress]”. Petitjean frequented James Joyce in Paris and played a rather important role in the latter’s life until Joyce’s death in 1941.
The Essay is edited, introduced and commented by Gaston Mannes (1947), professor of German literature, scholar attached to the Centre national de littérature (Luxembourg), librarian to the Court of the Grand-Duke of Luxembourg, curator of exhibitions, author of works of science, history and fiction. He is curator of the exhibition James Joyce in Luxembourg (2022) at the National Library of Luxembourg.