(GJ) Canto I (p.1, ll. 1-10).

“Yes: a brief syllable. A brief laugh. A brief beat of the eyelids.”

There, in the middle of the first three-sentence canto, is the orgasmic “Yes.” We already know Amalia Popper is the antithesis of earthy, loquacious Molly even after these few words. Joyce’s own birdlike Beatrice contrasts with the Irish Sea bird of A Portrait too. That bird is made of salt and sea, and Fraulein Popper is no more than air.

We will learn SHE is scentless and drapes herself in musky fur to declare her reality. She is more like a bird than a mammal. Like a bird, her actions are abrupt and wary. She is more a concept than a creature, a single syllable, a half-laugh, a lashed beat of the eyes. SHE holds a half glass to one eye when reading. Amalia Popper is both timid and aloof. SHE might likely dart off without warning if startled or suddenly inspired.

A construction of cobwebbed handwriting, gossamer but deadly, captivates Joyce, the mothlike mentor.

don ward June 9, 2020

2 thoughts on “(GJ) Canto I (p.1, ll. 1-10).

  1. I like how you end this: ‘A construction of cobwebbed handwriting, gossamer but deadly, captivates Joyce, the mothlike mentor.’ Currently, I’m working on Joyce’s poetry and including GJ because of its ambiguity, brief snatches of Pomes, and, for me, autobiographical nuances. I know, as you mention in a previous post, that Ellmann is on the fence about this. Perhaps he’s right. Hard to dismiss the autobiographical element when there is a layer in GJ. I enjoyed reading these analyses. Nice job!

    1. Sometimes I’m frustrated by Joyce’s vagaries. I like tidy resolutions. Then I realize the uncertainties are what draw me back over and again. He’s capable of being eternally new.
      Thanks, Mary. Don

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