MICHAEL LEWIS GRODEN
MAY 30, 1947 – MARCH 25, 2021


With love and sadness, I share the news of the death of my husband of twenty-nine years, and friend of sixty years, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Michael Lewis Groden.

An international Zoom celebration of his life with messages from his colleagues and friends is planned in the future, we hope sometimes between his birthday, May 30 and Bloomsday, June 16. Memorial contributions may be made in his memory at The Michael Groden Fund for the UB James Joyce Collection: http://buffalo.edu/giving/groden .

As you may know, Mike and I first became aware of each other when we were thirteen years old in English classes across the hall in grade eight. By the time we were sixteen, we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We lasted through our freshman years, Mike at Dartmouth College. Then we broke up for nineteen years. The fall after our breakup, Mike found the other Molly: Molly Bloom, as well as a life-long model in Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. This includes his PhD dissertation at Princeton University (which became his first book Ulysses in Progress ); his editorship of the 63-volume James Joyce Archive ; his position as a Professor of English at Western University in London, Ontario, for forty years; and his quarter century of James Joyce seminars at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92Y in New York City, where he lectured until three weeks before his death.

He was a member of The Royal Society of Canada, recipient of an honorary D.Litt degree from University College Dublin, and the Hellmuth Prize for Research. Mike was closely associated with the international James Joyce Conferences, and he acted as a consultant to the National Library of Ireland in the acquisition of important Joyce manuscripts. He also ventured into literary theory and used his ingenious organizational talents as well as his eldoquence (and his gift for procrastination) to co-edit The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory . More recently he was the author of Ulysses in Focus and a memoir, The Necessary Fiction: Life with James Joyce’s Ulysses. Just before his death he was at work as one of the co-editors of The Unpublished Letters of James Joyce.

Along with his stellar career came a shadow, melanoma. The development of melanoma research paralleled his forty years with the disease. With scholarly rigor, he pursued remedies with the melanoma team at Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, participating in a targeted-therapy drug trial. He did not have a struggle with cancer. Instead, he had a managed companionship, the kind of relationship that a small, smart wiry boy might have with a grudgingly mystified class bully. A short time before his first cancer occurrence, at age thirty-three, he became a long-distance runner, running the Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto marathon—with a best time of 2 hours and 47 minutes. His last run was about two months before he died. He also was a fierce badminton player (and a superb badminton partner.)

His relationship with death displayed his unique clarity and kindness toward his own suffering, a kindness he showed toward others’ suffering as well. Mike chose to die through the Medical Assistance in Dying process, legal in Canada since 2016. As a result, he was interviewed twice by volunteer physicians and he signed documents in the presence of volunteer independent witnesses. At the very end, he chose the date for his death. A brilliant man was lucid till his last hour.

[Posted by Molly Peacock on Facebook]