(GJ) Canto XII (p.5, ll. 1-10).

Unde derivatur? Mia figlia ha una grandissima ammira- zione per if suo maestro inglese. 

Leopoldo Popper innocently asks in which direction Joyce walks. Senor Popper is a trusting man. He shares that his tender daughter admires her instructor, unwittingly encouraging the casanova, who would seduce her.

The maestro might have two reasons to walk along with Popper. He gathers intelligence through this espionage. Joyce may have another intention less sinister. Joyce’s companion had raised an academically gifted, hard-working daughter, well-mannered and kind. Amalia Popper is also devoted to her father.

Lucia Joyce has many natural gifts, talent, and beauty. Perhaps due to the seeds of mental instability that would emerge later, Lucia lacks discipline and demonstrated explosiveness, mainly when dealing with Nora. Joyce placed little value on the new treatments of psychoanalysts even after they were widely accepted. The Joyce household in Trieste was surely in disruption both before and after Lucia’s birth on July 26, 1907 (Happy Birthday, Lucia). Nora suffered from postpartum depression. Jim’s jealousy roiled. He was absent for a bit, returning to Ireland. First one Joyce sister came to assist in caring for the children, then a second. The sisters, particularly Eva, had secret intentions of reforming their wild, unholy brother. The Joyce household’s disruptions might have affected Lucia when Joyce tutored Amalia Popper, but Lucia was only three years old when the Joyces last saw his student. None of Joyce’s research with Leopoldo, none of the Joyces’ interventions would save Lucia.

His discussion with Popper leads to a contemplation of Amalia’s virtues: “courtesy, benevolence, curiosity, trust, suspicion, naturalness, helplessness of age, confidence, frankness, urbanity, sincerity, warning, pathos, compassion.” They seem to make the girl a paragon. Mixed in with her sterling qualities, Suspicion follows Trust. The contradiction might indicate balance, but Warning also introduces Pathos. Amalia will not be easy prey for a seducer.

Curiously Joyce ends the contemplation with a prayer to Ignatius Loyola. It is not a prayer for fidelity in marriage but for self-discipline. Loyola, a professional soldier, on his wife’s death did not remarry but founded the Jesuits, a religious order with military structure and discipline. His prayer asks for patience. On his stroll with Popper, Joyce is a spy rather than one of Loyola’s holy soldiers.

don ward July 21, 2020

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