Saturday, August 16, 2003

A Bothersome Book

I recently began to read a book entitled Clairvoyant: The
Imagined Life of Lucia Joyce. Written by Alison Leslie Gold,
it purports to be a “tribute to Lucia’s ability to survive in
the face of a most mysterious and terrible illness” and also
claims it is based on “factual details of the Joyce family...”.

Okay. I can understand that. The author has to imagine
Lucia’s emotions and thoughts during her 47 years in
asylums. Sure. So I open the book and on the first page I
come to this line:

“Her wavy gingerbread-and-gray hair looked as though
it had been recently permed.”

That sentence gave me pause, but I continued to read.
Upon reaching page 7 . I encountered another such line:
“....her wild, irrepressible ginger colored hair”. I was initially
bewildered. Lucia? A redhead?

I flipped to the afterword where the author summarizes
what were facts and which parts of the book were fiction.
The last line reads “Lucia Joyce did not have red hair”.

I can understand that Gold would have to use her imagin-
ation for portions of the book, but red hair? What the hell!?
I put the book down and I won’t be reading any more of it.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

In an article entitled Blah Blah Blog Maureen Dowd quotes
Gary Hart, who doesn't bother to read other bloggers as
saying, "If you're James Joyce you don't read other authors."

Mr. Hart, I know James Joyce. I consider him to be my
friend. Mr. Hart, you are no James Joyce.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Dateline 2003 - James Joyce Censored - AGAIN

"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."
Stephen Dedalus

A must read article by Jonathon Wallace entitled
DirtyGerty:James Joyce , Censorship and the Net
be found here. He writes of the censorship trial of the
Little Review after carrying the Nausicaa chapter in their
publication and gives up nauseating information on current
censorship :

“Go into the Austin, Boston or Loudoun County public
libraries and try to access the page of excerpts from Molly
Bloom's soliloquy at
molly.htm. You won't be able to, because the SpaceTime
Portal site is blocked by CyberPatrol and X-Stop. (Its also
blocked by Surfwatch.)

Various other Joyce resources on the Web have been
blocked by CyberPatrol. For some time, you could not
access the Fileroom, a site which summarizes incidents
of censorship around the world... Similarly, you could not
get to the Wiretap server to read Donald Theall's essay
on James Joyce and the Prehistory of Cyberspace.

And X-Stop, the product installed in the Loudoun County
library, blocks a Banned Books page which has the entire
text of Ulysses.”

August 11th, 2003

Finn’s Hotel

Joyce considered "Finn's Hotel" as a title for Finnegans
Wake. Finn's was the hotel where Nora worked as a
chambermaid when James Joyce first made her acquain-
tance. Finn's Hotel still stands in Dublin and you can see
a photo of it (thanks to The Modern Word) here.

August 10th, 2003


Mrs. Riordan from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was
based on Mrs. Conway, a distant relative of John Joyce’s who
lived with the family in Dublin for several years. The children
called her Dante, which was a childish derivation of “Auntie”.

She considered joining the nunnery when she was in her late
20s but her brother died and left her a large sum of money.
So she passed on being a Bride of Christ and instead married
a solemn, bald man who worked at the Bank of Ireland. A few
years afterwards her husband left for South America, taking
most of her fortune with him. The original plan had been for
her to meet him there, but after a few letters between them,
he stopped correspnding with her and she never heard from
him again.

Stanislaus Joyce describes her as the “most bigoted person I
ever met”. In his book My Brother’s Keeper, Stannie tells of a
morning when he and James were walking with Dante and
they passed a house where a small coffin was being carried
out the front door. They could hear the hysterical mother
screaming and crying inside. The nursemaid of the dead baby
talked to Dante and explained that the mother was distraught
because the child had not been baptized. As Dante and the two
boys walked home, she explained , “So now you see what
happens. That child can never go to Heaven. Now you see what
comes of not baptizing immediately”.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Saturday, August 08, 2003

O’Casey on Joyce

This quote, from Irish playright Sean O’Casey, graced out
Bloomsday poster last year. I think it sums him up quite

“Joyce, for all his devotion to his art terrible in its austerity,
was a lad born with a song on one side of him, a dance on
the other - two gay guardian angels every human ought
to have” . . . Sean O’Casey

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Araby: The Film

Dennis Courtney has made a film of Araby, a short story
from Dubliners - one of my favorites in fact. The film has
won several awards. You can order it or see a trailer for
it here .

I haven't seen the film but the musical credits are unim-
pressive, as is their synopsis of the story (below).

"Based on the short story by Irish author James Joyce,
Araby is the bittersweet tale of a young boy's confused
affection for his friend's older sister. Taught by Jesuits
in turn-of-the-century Dublin, and raised in a strict
Catholic family, the boy worships his love from afar.
When she finally notices him, the girl expresses her sad -
ness in not being able to attend the enchanting Araby
bazaar. The boy nobly sets out to attain a gift for the
girl but instead meets with a harsh revelation. The boy's
romantic quest through the streets of Dublin becomes
a religious pilgrimage, merging the sensual and the sacred."

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Sweny’s Lemon Soap

I did something special this past Bloomsday. I made lemon
soap. Then I designed an old fashioned looking label and
used an old font to write the words “Lemon Soap” and
under that in smaller letters “F. W. Sweny, Pharmacist”. I
hand colored the labels so they looked like old Breck ads.
I gave several bars away and kept three for myself.

Sweny’s was an actual pharmacy in Dublin, might even
still be there. Bloom purchases lemon soap in the fourth
chapter of the book and carries it around for the day.
It serves as a talisman throughout the day, reassuring
him through various disturbing moments of the day.
Here’s a few examples:

"…I’ll take one of these soaps’…Mr. Bloom raised a
cake to his nostrils. Sweet lemony wax…He strolled
out of the shop, the newspaper baton under his armpit,
the coolwrapped soap in his left hand" .

He has the soap in his breast pocket at Glasnevin
Cemetary. The fresh smell comforts him when his
thoughts turn to death.

In the Aeolus Chapter, the newspaper carries an article
about soap. And the soap helps him overcome a greasy
smell from Thom’s next door. "He took out his handker-
chief to dab his nose. Citron-lemon? Ah, the soap I put
there. Lose it out of that pocket. Putting back his handker-
chief he took out the soap and stowed it away…"

After making the soap, I realized how comforting lemon
soap can be. Washing your hands and face with it is like
therapy. I haven’t tried carrying it around with me through-
out the day yet, but the next time I have a bad day, I’ll give
it a try.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Busy day today. My son received an eye injury at
work so we’ve spent the afternoon at the ER and
the Pharmacy. Luckily I’ve been saving up a few
quotes for this kind of day.

Here’s a few sayings by himself:

- There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so
abhorrent to thechurch as a human being.

- Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill
of a world a mother's love is not.

- Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is
honoured by posterity because he was the last to
discover America.

- I will tell you what I will do and what I will not
do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe,
whether it call itself my home, my fatherland,
or my church: and I will try to express myself in
some mode of life or art as freely as I can and
as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only
arms I allow myself to use--silence, exile and

Monday, August 04, 2003

Reading Ulysses

Catherine Finn of Bookslut writes about not
having read Ulysses here.

She says, "I have meant to read it for years. Every
time I hear the title I wince in shame that I have still
not tackled it. Two things have held me back, laziness
and fear."

She nailed it: laziness and fear are the two main impe-
diments to reading Ulysses.So here's some advice for
those who are contemplating reading Ulysses.

First of all, a secret: Ulysses is like the Bible - you don't
have to read it in the order it was written. If you can't
get into Stephen and Buck Mulligan in the Martello Tower
jump ahead to Chapter Four and read about Molly and
Bloom's morning. Whatever....Find a part that attracts you
and start there. Once you are engaged you'll want to read
every chapter in the book.

And remember this: Joyce has a famous quote about put-
ting enough puzzles in Ulysses to keep professors guess-
ing for decades. Joyce was a bit of a tease in that way.
But I believe he meant this book for the common man/
woman. The puzzles were to keep the professors talking,
but the beauty of the book is meant for the rest of us. It
took him ten years to write the book, surely you can spend
a few weeks trying it out. You may come away with a book
you can read and enjoy for the rest of your life.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Joyce Exhibit at The Ruth Haas Library in Westbury

Wrong side of the US for me, but I'd love to see this exhibit
which includes a Shakespeare & Company first-edition
volume of Ulysses printed in Paris in 1922; the 1934 first
American edition featuring a dust jacket designed by Ernst
Reichl; and copies of The Little Review, the New York literary
journal that published serialized installments of the novel
until 1919 when the U.S. Post Office began seizing issues
on grounds that the passages were obscene. The main item
I'd want to see is James Joyce's death mask - a bronze mask
cast from a plaster mold taken at Joyce's death.

Find out more about the exhibit here.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

We Missed Lucia Week !!

Lucia Anna Joyce was born on July 26, 1907. Schizophrenia
Ireland 's national awareness week (July 21st - 27th) is
named after Lucia, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia
at a young age.You can find out more about this year's
events here. SI is"dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs
of all those affected by schizophrenia and related illnesses,
through the promotion and provision of high-quality services
and working to ensure the continual enhancement of the
quality of life of the people it serves."

Friday, August 01, 2003

Joyce & BDSM

Joyce’s sexual penchants can be found in both his work
and his private life. Bondage, domination, submission, S & M,
fetishism: Joyce was one of those rare men who knew
that when you love someone passionately and completely,
nothing is dirty.

Here is a short excerpt from his the Nightown Chapter of

“BELLO: Cheek me, I dare you. If you do, tremble in anticipa-
tion of heel discipline to be inflicted in gym costume.” AND

“BELLO: You will be laced with cruel force into vicelike
corsets of soft dove coutille, with whalebone busk, to the
diamond trimmed pelvis, the absolute outside edge, while
your figure, plumper than when at large, will be restrained
in nettight frocks...”

Private examples of Joyce’s sexual leanings can be found
in the letters Joyce wrote to Nora, some of which can be
found here. When the letters were published there was a bit
of a scandal over the content of some of the letters as well
as the violation of Joyce’s privacy. Anticipating such a reaction,
Richard Ellman wrote in the introduction to the volume of letters:

"This correspondence commands respect for its intensity and
candour, and for its fulfillment of Joyce's avowed determination
to express his whole mind."

Here’s a an excerpt:

“ I would be delighted to feel my flesh tingling under your
hand . Do you know what I mean, Nora dear? I wish you would
smack me or flog me even. Not in play, dear, in earnest and
on my naked flesh. ..... I would love to be whipped by you,
Nora love! “

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