(D) about “Eveline,” October 8

Hugh Kenner invites us to consider that Frank of “Eveline” speaks for Frank’s creator, James Joyce. Sondra Melzer expands that comparison claiming Eveline speaks for Nora Barnacle.

Joyce carried Nora off to parts unknown on October 8, 1904, but resisted any urge to marry her until 1931. Were his motives noble, or did he find himself “trapped,” dependent on her? “Eveline” was written before the Barnacle-Joyces embarked for the Continent. James’ intentions toward Nora proved to be both duplicitous (marriage delayed) and faithful (that he remained with Nora). The character’s (Frank’s) promises remain ever-unrealized, neither kept nor broken.

Eveline wandered through a childhood’s Garden. Darkness hadn’t yet come to “invade the avenue,” and her father was neither benevolent nor a threat. He rousted them from play with his blackthorn, but there’s no report that he used the cudgel on their backs. He never raised his hand against the littlest Eve. Sequestered in an unmanicured garden was a solitary apple tree still unmolested (Ellmann).

In the Garden, Little Flynn, twisted with concupiscence, introduced deception to their play. He was the lookout, hissing “nix” in warning as Father Hill approached (Jackson and McGinley). Before his coyness cheated authority, Eveline Hill lived in innocence and ignorance. She is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. With knowledge of good and evil comes the possibility of duplicity and the loss of certainty. Flynn the Trickster promised power, independence, and knowledge but delivered them without revealing the consequences. Mr. Hill could now be violent and vengeful. He will expel uncompliant children from the Garden (Jackson and McGinley) and substitute mysterious anonymous replacements for the children he has driven away. Eve remains subservient not from devotion but weakness. Perhaps she heeds the warning of The Irish Homestead: “displacement from Ireland was dangerous, isolating, and disappointing.”

Silent Mrs. Hill accepted abuse as part of her station. William York Tindall interpreted her slurred dying words “Derevaun Seraun!” as “The end of pleasure is pain,” perhaps referring to sexual pleasure. Her pain is the tax levied for her pleasure. Planning her escape, Eveline says: “She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now, though over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence.” Her mother is now just a shade. She left for her daughter’s “dowry,” the demand that Eveline keep the household together. Mother’s final wage was dementia and the gathering dust. This reward would be Eveline’s too.

In the drawing-room, the wall’s inspirations included the promises of The Sacred Heart of Jesus given to Margaret Mary Alacoque. Among the Sacred Heart’s unkept promises to Eveline are peace in her home, “abundant blessings for all… undertakings,” and that her lukewarm heart would be made fervent. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s devotion caused her to refuse a proposal of marriage. In return, she experienced visions producing ecstacies of sexual displacement. In one vision, the nun put her mouth to the open wound on her Savior’s side.

Despite her vows, Margaret Mary is acclaimed. Her veneration traveled from France to Ireland, Australia, America, Canada, Portugal, Belgium, and other countries where Benedictines and Cistercians serve. The Sacred Heart also has ecumenical expressions in the Anglican, Lutheran, and Western Rite Orthodox Churches. Father Anonymous of the adventurous, missionary spirit is also memorialized in the “yellowing” photo, but the only detail about his existence is that he landed in Melbourne. 

It is curious to note that Poppie Joyce also took her mother’s order to hold the home together. That Poppie lived both roles serving as cornerstone for John Joyce’s domicile and becoming a missionary. Poppie repeatedly asked her father’s permission to join a convent; he used the promise to May Joyce to keep his daughter bound. Ultimately, she took matters into her own hands, living out her days as a Sister of Mercy in New Zealand. Other Joyce girls were pressed into domestic service for the Joyce-Barnacle household in Trieste; one was named Eva. Was Poppie Joyce ethical when accepting her vocation to the clergy requiring her to break another vow? Did Poppie Hill follow the will of God in keeping her vow and accepting a solitary, secular, sterile destiny? The reader would need to know the secret motivations of the Poppies to judge them.

Old Hill’s name reminds us of his antic bonnet-wearing on the Hill of Howth. His name, Jackson and McGinley note, also suggests the polarities of Calvary and the pornographic Fanny Hill. He warns his daughter about sailors’ ways but is silent about Eveline’s future in his drunken service. Father Hill’s mood is unpredictable. He may have been less brutish when Mother Hill was alive– or he may have heaped his brutality privately on her. In later days, he might nurse an ailing Eveline back to health. His ways are as inscrutable as the outcome of emigration, the divine source of a vocation, or the faithfulness of a lover’s promises.

Frank will be Eveline’s savior. He will carry her from Dublin’s “black pool” to the “good air” of Buenos Aires (Jackson and McGinley). She will be his wife and will manage a household of her own. Frank, like her brother Ernest, is “open-hearted.” This semblance to the Sacred Heart also suggests the ecstasy of Margaret Mary Alacoque. 

The sailor “fell on his feet in Buenos Aires.” Though he came for a return visit to Ireland, we hear nothing of his family or a home to visit. He wins Eveline, who is initially indifferent to his advances though enjoying his attentions. He takes her to a performance of The Bohemian Girl. It’s a romantic comedy about a runaway girl, but the reader continues to puzzle about Eveline’s escape. He seems to have had a strategy.

Frank has no shortage of money. How might an able-bodied seaman gather such a cache? Sidney Feshbach says that during the Argentine economic surge that began in 1850, a laborer might earn enough in three weeks to buy a flock of 1500 sheep. Prosperity is possible but remains mysterious. He tells tales but not about how he gained his fortune. Instead, he excites Eveline with tales of wild Patagonians, reported falsely to be cannibals [three Patonians were transported to England to be hunted like animals. They were more victims than terrors.] Magellan named them for the size of their feet, and Joyce is deliberate in saying Frank “fell on his feet” rather than “landed.” Satan fell too but retained an archangel’s powers. Jackson and McGinley note the phrase “to go to Buenos Aires” also meant to become a prostitute. 

Notably, Frank wears his hat at the back of his head like Lenehan, the would-be pimp of “Two Gallants.” Research in Laura Barberan Renaires’ Eveline and Sex Trafficking discloses a Jewish underworld syndicate Zwi Migdal that marketed sex in Buenos Aires. “Recruiting” for Zwi Migdal might be a profitable occupation.

That Frank is a procurer is supposition. Hugh Kenner, a giant in Joycean commentary, was roundly condemned for suggesting this motivation by Benstock in “The Kenner Conundrum.” [ Could Benstock jack the giant?]. The criticism calls Kenner’s reading as reckless as Evil Knievel’s motorcycle jump over the Grand Canyon. Kenner’s evidence of his guilt is at least as significant as the clues supporting his innocence. Any evidence is self-reported and subject to misrepresentation.

Another complication is the comparison of action taken (results known) to action not taken (results not known). This asks the reader to accept or reject a condition that does not exist. The unknowable and the impossible, however, are exactly the stuff that makes literature a worthwhile pastime. Suppositions like Hugh Kenner’s about events after the story concludes are among the delights of literature. 

Examining every outcome is the basis of scientific and financial modeling like weather prediction models. Quantum physics proposes the actual existence of all possible outcomes in “invisible” realms. Various propositions of quantum theory are proven mathematically, and some are supported in mechanical tests. These invisible realms appear to be “real” in some sense. Hugh Keener leads us down the path of each quantum outcome. Should they be pursued? Quantum theory says they must.

Irish-Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger set out to make the Copenhagen Quantum theorists appear ridiculous with a thought experiment resulting in a feline subject that was both dead and alive. Like Schrodinger’s Cat, Eveline Hill is both saved and damned, both blissful and broken, at the same time made secure and paralyzed by her grip on the pier’s steely railing.


(D) about “Counterparts,” February 16


[Setting “Counterparts” on the Dubliners Calendar requires some finesse. If sunset occurs at about 5:30 PM, the date might be soon after February 12 and also after mid-month. Ireland, however, did not begin Daylight Savings Time until 1916. Joyce finished Counterparts on July 16, 1905. Alternately, the sunset might coincide with a November setting, but if we accept that having endured a season of sunlight deprivation might make Farrington even more irascible, a February placement might improve your appreciation of the plot.]

“Counterparts” sits upon a somewhat obvious comparison of owner and laborer with father and son, suggested by the story’s title. Underneath, tier upon tier of meaning reveals the “nightmare of history.” While face-to-face confrontations shape the nature of the counterparts, there is also a third party in each conflict who (or which) promotes the conflict, sometimes through interference at other times through inaction. Joyce is never conspicuous in all his intentions. In this story, many interlocking and dysfunctional relationships are at play.

Clerical Farrington stoops and scribbles during his days in the service of his North of Ireland employer, Barrister Alleyne. Alleyne, a verbally abusive bully, is known as a tyrant among the firm’s employees and perhaps to the senior partner who solely maintains final judgment in the management, discipline, and dismissal of employees. Alleyne’s practice is to harry unsatisfactory employees into resignation rather than dismissing them. Farrington suspects he will receive this treatment, as did little Peake. We might come to suspect that Alleyne is reluctant to act against an unsatisfactory employee because he would also face abuse in turn from his superior, Crosbie.

Employees of the firm serve two masters. One overtly authoritarian, the other is absent from the story, not benevolent and even perhaps more sinister for his silence. Similarly, Joyce wishes to awaken from history’s nightmare, springing from buffeting between two masters: “The imperial British state, …and the holy Roman catholic and apostolic church.” In “Counterparts,” he traces the flow of a youthful nightmarish trickle to an aerated river of white water and finally to a thunderous cascade of historic proportions.

Of all the abuses meted out among the story’s relationships, the least remarkable is abuse by a conqueror for the conquered. An imperial overlord constructs a system seizing the law, land realty, politics, inheritance, finance, and control of the means of production. The colonial subject of an empire comes to expect a bilking in the public marketplace. When pawning his watch, Farrington anticipates as much. He argues too long and without much benefit for a slightly better bargain. Significantly, he demands a “crown” (Scholes). Farrington’s helplessness leads him to create strategies to confound the conquerer. These include the deceits of the shepherd’s cap and the caraway seed. He does not need a watch. The conqueror’s adage preaches: “Time is money,” but time has no currency for Farrington.

With imperiousness, Farrington displaces his shortcomings onto his boy. The son is unrecognized by the parent’s drink-squinted eye, and his name is unavailable on the paternal tongue. Bully Farrington, not strong enough to cow a skinny circus performer, can, at home, throw his bulk about. The historical nightmare paid forward, Little Tom Farrington is battered by an abusive father. That is not the greater of Tom’s crosses. Unlike Squires Dedalus or Sargent, this boy lacks the saving grace of a mother’s sheltering love.

Unlucky Tom finds himself exposed to the old man, who is uncomforted by thin drunkenness from his day of failures. The carousal bonfire, the sparks of paternity and career, the flickering of economy are all extinguished like the fire meant to heat his supper. In flailing the boy, he reflects an imitation of the master bully, Alleyne. When Farrington has “drink taken,” he also rules his tiny kingdom with a closed fist.

Her lord’s drunken rage is predictable to Mistress Farrington, who abandons the household and its young peasants to the tyrant. He would also have taxed her with his strap. In the morning, his rant will be overtaken by a swollen head, and she will resume the rule of the realm. On this night of her lord, she is off to the chapel, perhaps sparing a few prayers against broken bones for her children. During the last quarter of the 19th Century, Mother, Mary, and Church, personified in Mother Farrington, were raised beyond reproach. Rome had formalized traditions claiming Immaculate Conception (sinlessness) and Papal Infallibility. Joyce succinctly presented the Church’s haughty declaration with the quote: “You be damned! Kissmearse! I’m infallible!” Tiny Tommy hasn’t the girth to stand against his father, so he follows his mother’s path for now and bargains with simoniac prayers. He offers a feminine paean to his mother, to The Virgin Mary, and to the Church for salvation. The boy of the house, still docile, will one day become a “faithful copy” of the man (Jackson and McGinley point out that, in the Irish language, fear means man or husband and fearh, a pig).

“about ‘Counterparts'” copyright (C) don ward 2021

The Farrington household is ruled by a violent invader, demanding the little food remaining in the pot. A “devout” agent absents herself, Mother sacrificing her charges when trouble wears its crown. Teary Tom, too weak to resist, follows her superstition that the conquerer will spare him in exchange for piety. If Farrington is a “faithful copy” of Alleyne, the home is an inversion of that relationship with Farrington in the oppressor’s role. These dysfunctions also reflect the relationship of Irish peasant culture, an imperious conqueror, and a self-serving Church, remaining silent to avoid imperial displeasure. 

Beyond the “cracked mirrors” of the Irish societal and the Farrington household analogies, there is an analogy of commercial Europe. Here the mirror’s shards reflect Farrington as man/pig/peasant and Alleyne as the Unionist, with Madam Delacour playing the role of prosperous Continental Europe. Great Britain long courted France as a trading partner, but the French played coyly. Despite tentative British-French military alliances from the mid-nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries, economic rivalry remained just beneath the surface. Why then is Madam Delacour, the symbol of Continental Europe, amused by Farrington’s insult to Alleyne but not inspired to intercede on the clerk’s behalf? This attitude recalls European attitudes toward Irish insurrections against Great Britain. France, Spain, Germany, and the Papacy all offered encouragement, but only nominal battlefield support during three failed rebellions in the 16th Century. In 1798, a French advance guard of about one thousand landed in County Mayo while the main contingent held back. Antecedent to the Easter rebellion, a German captain, unaccompanied by a military escort to protect his vessel, scuttled a cargo of arms needed to conduct the uprising. Ironically, the Irish lent more than nominal support to the Hapsburg kingdoms in Austria and Spain, then to Napolean’s forces first through the Jacobite Irish Brigade and later as Napolean’s Irish Legion. 

Many critics contend that James Joyce was opposed to Irish nationalism and the cultural revival as well as being ambivalent toward the Church. These critics may be shocked by Gareth Downes’ assessment of how strident were James Joyce’s feelings against Britsh Imperialism and Roman Catholic clergy. Downes argues that Joyce’s spite has been watered-down. It may come as an even greater surprise that, according to Vincent Chang, Joyce was “canonized” as High Modernist to distract from the ferocity of his opposition to Britain. Chang blamed Modernist misdirection primarily on T.S. Eliot, who emphasized Modernism in Joyce’s work to cover for insurrectionism. Eliot, an American, was a devoted Anglophile. 

Joyce’s shoddy treatment of Yeats and Lady Gregory supports claims of his indifference for Irish nationalism. However, that seems to have been juvenile attention-seeking by “the artist as a young man.” His rejection of the Irish language was the result of jealousy over the affections of “E.C.” These claims also point to Joyce’s poke at Irish Revivalism (“the cultic toilet”). As the most masterful craftsman of English prose, Joyce had every reason to adhere to the use of English over the Irish Language. He used English with a watchmaker’s delicacy and exactitude. However, in “James Joyce & the Old Man from the West: A Study in Literary Nationalism,” Golden points out that Joyce’s use of cadence and idiom mark him as a stylistically Irish writer. Stanislaus Joyce contended that Irish gradation of meaning would make it difficult for his brother to be accepted by a British publisher. James Joyce is reported to have said that he did not write in English. In discussion with Schwartz, Joyce said that Finnegans Wake was not written as English but as music. And Fritz Senn refers to Joyce’s writing as “foreign English.” Senn goes on to explain the frequent treatment of words as “artifacts” or “specimens” (consider his play with “metempsychosis,” “tundish,” and “gnomon”). Despite his linguistic virtuosity, Joyce was an outsider even to the English language. He was an Irishman using the sounds with shades of meaning (and amusements) not available to the “stranger.” Golden reports that for his efforts, Elington attacked Joyce’s experimental use of language “savagely” accusing him of writing with “no faintest trace of Protestantism.” 

Joyce’s composition is played in three-part Hegelian cacophony. There are tripartite themes in the office (Alleyne, Farrington, and Delacour, and Crosbie, Alleyne, and the staff). The same is true in the Farrington household (The Man, The Mistress, and Tom), next is the linking of Farrington, Weathers, and the Cockney Amaryllis (as named by Jackson and McGinley). The inspiration for the story may be Joyce’s overarching theme of the battering and bartering of the Irish native by Church and State. There remains a related but not identical tussle between the Church and the Empire for the Irish peasant heart and purse. Underlying the Church’s role in Ireland is the old tension between the Roman Church, the long-untamed Celtic Catholic Church, and druidism. There is also the interplay of the British Empire and Continental Europe over Ireland’s independence and the related mercantile concerns for Irish land, ports, and men-at-arms. Finally, there is the issue of language for Joyce and all Irish writers: The interplay of English, The Irish Language, and the refinement or defilement of Celtic meaning, tone, and lyricism on Saxon-English.

“Counterparts” might be a story that illuminates Joyce’s “nightmare of history.” It might be a boxing match between jealous English and Papal heavyweights with the Irish peasantry paying the prize. It might also debate whether Joyce was politically and religiously agnostic, the most Catholic and Nationalistic of creatures, or a multinational Modernist. Think about that over with a small Irish, a glass of bitters, or an Apollinaris. 

(D) about “The Dead,” January 6

‘the dead are dancing with the dead./The dust is whirling with the dust.’ (Oscar Wilde, “The Harlot’s House”)

Befuddled Julia Morkan, “toddling” on the arm of Mister Archibald DeathBrowne, appears “ignorant, old, grey-skinned, and stupified.” She exits the room of her minor musical triumph for the feast where Gabriel of the next generation will eulogize her prematurely. The language and symbols of mortality surround her [Lily, symbol of death; “morke”- Dansk for darkness; “three mortal hours”; “tod(dling)”- German for Death; “perished alive”; “her death of cold”; and the glue maker’s horse].

 Julia surprised her audience with vocal competence, even if her choice of a wedding song seemed inappropriate. Youth expects little of her. Betrothed to Death, it’s unclear if Aunt Julia’s talents have declined as much as her reputation. She now teaches only piano beginner’s books, scales, and the grouping of fingers around Middle C. Her talents might remain largely intact; still, society’s accounting of her worth depreciates with age.

Julia lives under the threat of disposability. Even a marginal decline in skill makes her a candidate for replacement by younger, shinier talent. Rejection is customary to her, and her accession shows with a blank expression. Her “health, pallor and attention” suffer. She is “a shriveled red apple” that lacks worldly polish, cored, bitten and ready to be tossed away.

Browne coils nearby, anxious to carry Julia away, and she is resigned to entering the world of shades. She is on the wrong side of the grave, evidence that “the living and the dead are jealous of each other.” But obsolescence is not only a function of age. Gabriel longs to walk in the park under the snowfall, feeling like a relic passed over by Revivalist nationalism. G.C.’s brand of high culture, the source of his prestige, has fallen out of fashion, overtaken by changing values.

If people become passe’ as tastes change, so do structures, but a few special buildings can appreciate over time, increasing in value through prestige, historical significance, and broad sentimental support. One such structure could be 15 Usher’s Island, home of the historical Misses Flynn and the literary Misses Morkan. Here they shared their gifts of community and culture. The ladies are now shades. Today, changing priorities would turn their home into mere memory too. One reason for Julia Morkan’s diminished reputation was certainly her failing potential to generate income. The house of “The Dead” also has its immortality threatened for the sake of cash flow.

“Snow Was General” copyright (c) don ward 2021

Fifteen Usher’s literary heritage is also threatened by a fistful of cash shaken at that property. After this landmark fades, only the Sandymount Martello Tower and Sweny’s Pharmacy will remain as public celebrations of the author’s authenticity. Mercenary ethics demands a price for each breath taken and insists the Morkan/Flynn home be cannibalized. Private capital prefers fifty-six tightly-packed hostel berths over a generous and venerable historical and literary legacy.

Investors in the property have secured quite a landfall acquiesced to by public governance. The investing partnership obtained a house that had already undergone significant improvement for 650,000 euros. The debt held by the lending institution was over 2.34M euros. Presumably, the previous owner had already invested borrowed monies in improvements since the debt resulted in bankruptcy. 

Fergus McCabe of the investing partnership told the Irish Times in November 2019 that turning the property into a high occupancy site was “the only viable option.” If viability demanded profits in excess of 200%, that might have been the rationale in 2019 despite declining Irish tourist revenues.

The cost-benefit muttered out by a green-shaded chartered account, however, could not predict the events of 2019 and 2020. Historically, tourism accounts for 10.4% of global GDP and 7% of global exports. Ireland fares less well than you might expect, with an influx of only 9.3bn euros (5.2bn euros by overseas tourists in Ireland) and trails the global average at 4% of GDP. A tourism surge is expected on the pent-up, post-Covid demand for international travel. However, Irish tourism was in decline even before the pandemic reared up. In pre-covid 2019, Irish tourism declined by 1%. Spain and France outperformed Ireland for tourism, and Edinborough typically outperforms Dublin.

The current private-sector venture bets (for now) that low-end travel on cramped commercial flights and quartering in bargain-priced, high turn-over, high-density hostels will resume according to the 2019 business model. The virus, however, is not Covid 1 but 17. It will mutate, and as a result, public life will again change a little or a lot to dodge the peril. The economics of hospitality will change too, with hostels taking on vacuous facades and falling derelict like poor Julia Morkan. Some who follow the financial markets may object to this argument, pointing to investor enthusiasm for the AirBNB initial public offering. Investor optimism, however, focuses here precisely because AirBNB provides low-density hospitality (few beds). It’s specialty is facilities with few guests or short-term rentals to a single renter. You might compare AirBNB to Target Properties Management which is collapsing under the weight of high density properties like the 15 Usher’s Island proposal.

I might return to Ireland in the post-Covid world, in part because my paternal grandmother was a Dublin Conroy. But the story also beckons to those named Callanan, Cousins, and Currans. Those were just the Dead-Diaspora with last names beginning with the letter C. There is no logic that could convince me to stay in the most hygienic of new hostels. I would argue vigorously with family and friends who suggest they might do so. The values that drive the necessary demise of the Morkans’ home are not sentimental. They are the cold metallurgy of the coin. If the current plan executes, it is bound to result in a failed hostel, again a wastrel property, and a public embarrassment of Viconian recursiveness.

Just as “The Dead” revisits the failures and epiphanies-too-late of the fourteen stories preceding it in Dubliners, the passing of 15 Usher’s Island will conjure the uneasy spirit of 7 Eccles Street. Raise “The Dead.”

don ward December 11, 2020

About Giacomo Joyce (GJ)

Ellmann’s Edition

The last task should be deciding what type of artistic creation is Giacomo Joyce. It would be helpful to begin reading with that task in mind. It might be a prose poem. It might be a diary, a confession, or an exploration of streams of consciousness. Joyce called the episodes “sketches” when Pound asked him for publishable work. Whichever form it is, it’s spiced with excitation, penanced with pain. Richard Ellmann’s introduction, perhaps three times the word count of the piece itself, says Giacomo Joyce is not strictly autobiographical. Joyce didn’t see his subject after 1909 if SHE is Amalia and her husband is to be believed, but some events in this work take place much later. There may be a second Amalia, maybe a third. That would be long after 1909. Joyce perseverated over the possibility that Martha Fleischmann might be Jewish too. This might also make her a candidate for the title of “Dark Who.” This would be dangerous speculation as fascism reared up, and not a possibility the Fleischmanns might like explored. Another possibility is that Amalia returns periodically as a specter even more ephemeral than the SHE of 1907 and 1908.

Joyce himself never put the title Giacomo Joyce to the pages. Certainly, the title refers to Casanova but written not by Joyce but by some unknown spirit. You might now suspect these pages are an undated diary, including flights of the imagination rather than a prose poem. There is a third possibility: despite the imposed title suggesting the subject is Joyce, the piece might be an authentic portrait capturing SHE at a moment in time.

For now, I’ll assign thoughts about Giacomo’s reverie to cantos. In the manuscript, SHE adorns her knotted hair like Beatrice Cenci’s. Raped by her father, that Beatrice murdered him and was beheaded. Thus the reader might infer the suggestion of punishment for an older man who defiles a young student. Ellmann also notes a connection to Dante’s ideal, Beatrice Portinari.

The most excellent testimonial from penurious Joyce is that he never submitted the work for publication or even had it typed. I have been guilty of undervaluing Joyce’s poesy excepting “Ecce Puer.” Like all the longer revered works, Giacomo Joyce is, I now think, also revolutionary, a hammered and tempered one-of-of-a kind monstrance of rococo silver with a golden chamber of adoration at the core.

Read the sixteen-page text of Giacomo Joyce here…

Copyright @ don ward, 2020

(GJ) Cantos XLVIII-XLIX (p.16. ll. 24-27, 31).

Her arms: a casque, gules, and blunt spear on a field, sable. 

The tale is told, although neither that subject nor verb is accurate of what we witnessed. There has been no narrative; the sharing has been secretive.

It is unlikely that the Poppers or other contenders for the role of “Dark Who” would be emblazoned with a coat of arms by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, although the Rothchild branch in Vienna was decorated despite Jewish roots. Here Joyce awards the lady with a coat of arms, but perhaps not her own. A dark table (sable) displays her adorned hat (casque) and umbrella (a blunt spear) placed diagonally (gules). The display is more than suggestive of the coat of arms first requested in 1596 of England’s Garter King of Arms for the sum of thirty guineas. The requesting family was Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Coat of Arms

Throughout Giacomo Joyce, the author associated himself with The Bard. When discussing Cantos XLVI and XLVII, we saw the similarities between Hamlet and Giacomo, including some of those noted by Mick Greer. There are many more. For example, there are also the dedications shared by Shakespeare’s sonnets to the anonymous “Dark Lady” and Joyce’s composition for the “Dark Who.” These disenchanted married men both conducted illicit underground courtships.

Annie Schliemer claims a marriage proposal from Joyce. Would he share his double’s (Shakespeare’s) heraldry with her if she accepted? He copies Shakespeare’s emblem on the table by arranging the WHO’s possessions. Some believe the arrangement is to mark HER with Hester Prynne’s “A.” I see no actual adultery or unlawful birth here. I don’t see an “A” either.  

John Shakespeare, the poet’s father, had his application for arms denied on the first submission. Later, the Garter reversed its decision based on the family’s service to Henry VII and John’s marriage to Arden’s heiress (politicworm.com). That is, he married above his station, like William’s aspirational love for the “Dark Lady of the Sonnets” (some candidates being affluent) and James for the “Dark Who” (all three named candidates being quite wealthy).

When permitted, the motto was changed to clarify the meaning. The original legend included a comma and would be translated: “No, not deserved.” Removing the comma allowed for the translation: “Not without right.” The irony is at least amusing, where knights pursue illicit loves, honor is undeserved. Ben Jonson poked at the motto penning a character whose coat of arms proclaimed: “Not without Mustard” (Morris, The Shakespearian Blog). 

HER blunt-tipped spear, the umbrella, is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. With it, she fended off the assault against her honor and delivered the poisoned thrust that left Joyce destroyed like Prince Hamlet. While the annihilation of the characters of Hamlet settles all scores, it also allows the Prince redemption after murders, betrayals, acts against family, the State, and love. If Joyce suffers a symbolic death through his rejection by the “Dark Who,” he is saved through his return to Nora. 

But the lady makes the coat of arms her own. Shakespeare’s colors are also hers, the yellow of the train voyage through the ricefield and the black of the basilisk’s poison eye. The images, flowered hat, virginal umbrella, and sable gules recalling odoriferous fur replace the seducer’s mark. She has carried the day. “Envoy: Love me, love my umbrella.”

don ward October 29, 2020



(GJ) Cantos XLVI-XLVII (p.16, ll.12-16, 20).

…foliage of stars-s-and waning heaven-c-stillness-e-…./

Non hunc sed Barabbam! 

On first reading, these cantos seem among the simplest of Giacomo Joyce. The simplicity is as deceptive as a Judas kiss. As ever, time twists, shapes shift, and identities intermingle. The essential puzzle of the prose poem changes too from “Who?” (now answered) to “Why?” which may forever remain unanswerable.  

The plot seems to have reached the denouement. SHE has chosen another for the sake of religion, riches, status, even perhaps for love. Joyce has countered by asking that SHE continue his instruction. SHE lunges with a blunt “Why?” In innocence, feigned and coy, he parries, saying he might at least see her even if his suit is hopeless. He hopes he can compromise her yet.

The first of the hidden jewels among these lines was mined by Mick Greer in his “Acting the Prince: Giacomo Joyce and Hamlet.” Greer finds that Giacomo Joyce, in its entirety, is a tribute to Hamlet. Consider the comparison of Leopold Popper and Polonius, the discarding of Ophelia and “Take her now who will,” the graveyard scenes, the poisonings, and duels ending in the unexpected destruction of the princes. SHE insists that the matter is ended; Prince Giacomo expires.

The second of the hidden gems is the single Latin line of Canto XLVII: Non hunc sed Barabbam! “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Since SHE made clear her disinterest, Joyce has characterized himself as a victimized Christ. SHE has chosen an unworthy man, the murderer of Joyce’s love, over Rabbi Giacomo. 

Finally, in this month when the dead walk the Earth, another phenomenon rises- the specter of a modern, digital mystery worthy of this string-theorized, worm-holed work. The italicized lines which introduce this essay were down-loaded from the online version of Ellmann’s edition of Giacomo Joyce. Apple’s Safari executed the download onto my MacBook Pro into a Grammarly file. The unitalicized result was otherwise just as you see it on the image before your eyes. Neither Ellmann’s typeset text nor the reproduced images of Joyce’s handwritten original include the “-s-” “-c-” “-e-” embedded in the downloaded text. These suggest to me Joyce’s juvenile mantra of A Portrait: silence, cunning, exile. Now he will hide, plot, and wait. Spooky, huh? 

Greer astutely points out the similarities among the apocryphal phrases of Giacomo, Hamlet, and Christ:

"-stillness of annihilation" (Giacomo Joyce)
"the rest is silence" (Hamlet)
"Consummatum est" (The Gospel of John)

So am I.

don ward October 27, 2020

(GJ) Canto XLV (p.16, ll. 1-8).

Youth has an end: the end is here. It will never be. You know that wen. What then? Write it, damn you, write it! What else are you good for? 

Vicki Mahaffey notes that Joyce’s memories of Sweelinck’s clavichord tunes recall childhood days. Noted as Europe’s foremost keyboard player until J.S. Bach, many of the Dutchman’s compositions began as exercises for his students. Sweelinck’s tutoring connects Maestro Joyce and the organ teacher. Mahaffey also notes that Joyce’s recollection is jarring because he now faces a forced entry into adulthood. Joyce seems nostalgic for his days as a student. He has been reluctant to mature from the student who studied fingering to the language instructor responsible for his own students. This signpost marks a direction from infantile philanderer toward family man. The growth is personal, not professional. 

Joyce has crossed over into his fourth decade. Romans believed young men insufficiently mature to hold public office until the age of thirty (although patrician families received special accommodation). Jamsey has been persistently inconsistent in vacillating between youth and maturity. Appropriate to this discussion, Murray McArthur notes that in the year he names for Giacomo’s writing, Joyce’s age was exactly midway twixt Stephen’s (22) and Bloom’s (38).

The duality of Dedalus and Bloom first is heated in the crucible of artistic extreme then purposefully cooled in Giacomo Joyce. The balance between the two will improve in Ulysses. In the prose poem, Joyce is both predator and prey, Mephestololes and Christ. The SHE is both innocent and temptress, dead and alive, light and shadow. SHE is the basilisk that first spares then destroys her “lover.”

When Giacomo Cassanova was no longer able to seduce, aged, infirmed, and imprisoned, he limited himself to writing about his conquests. He did not consider that to be maturation but surrender to failing powers. James Joyce also recognizes he has become a superannuated juvenile and failed lover. He concludes as this prose sketch trails away, it was not an unwillingness by his lover that spoils his suit but an unworthiness within himself. 

Joyce will slip again in years ahead. That slip may be more searing to his conscience because he has recognized how shallow and vain was the two-decade-long search to be worshipped by the women who reject and leave him unappreciated. He has been dismissed and unloved by E.C., Mary Sheehy, and perhaps by flesh and blood manifestations of Mangan’s sister and the Watergirl, now joined by “Dark Whos” fictional and actual. But one more forgave his sins, peccadillos, and peculiarities. Devoted Nora carried him home after every injustice against her. She was the imperfectly perfect Molly who loved him as he wished to be loved even before he conceded to Bloom.

don ward October 22, 2020 

(GJ)Canto XLIV (p.15, ll. 8-32).

A starry snake has kissed me: a cold nightsnake. I am lost! -Nora!- 

The joke asks: What does the B. stand for in Benoit B. Mandelbrot? The punchline: Benoit B. Mandelbrot. Mandelbrot’s theory is that the part is the whole. About Giacomo Joyce, the estimable Fritz Senn says, “One girl is all girls.” This is also the stuff of Mandelbrot’s fractiled philosophy. Senn tells us that Amalia, Emma, and Annie are the “Dark Who” equally and together. Consider the shamrock, Paddy.

Ulysses perfected a confusion among names, mistaken identities, asynchronous time, shapeshifting, misunderstanding by perspective and parallax, and a mirror’s distorted image that might make both ordinary and extraordinary people reflect as Shakespeare (this last noted by Louis Armand). Joyce’s cavalcade of confusion parades through Telemachus, Hades, Lestrygonians, Wandering Rocks, Circe, and Eumaeus. These phenomena together indicate that Joyce and Mandelbrot would agree. In Ulysses, one ordinary individual embodies our entire species: man and woman, Jew and Gentile, homebody and wanderer, lecher and faithful spouse. This brand of “metempsychosis” began on Giacomo’s eight sheets of sketchpad.

Decomposing the one SHE into the components of Senn’s “all girls” allows that “WHO” can be alternately given the attributes of “pale face” and “olive oval face.” She can be at once “disdainful” and “small witless helpless.” SHE can be both “Rounded and ripened” and “frail” or “slim” with a “tendonous neck.” She is alternately a child-scholar and a young woman a year Joyce’s senior. SHE flies colors first yellow, then black, finally and tellingly green. Only Emma had a scar from an appendectomy, only Annie received a marriage proposal from Joyce, Amalia had the black basilisk eyes (McCourt), but all are conjoined into one.

If Joyce wrote Giacomo Joyce in 1911 or 1912 as is suspected, that would place the memoir of his domestic dissatisfaction in the year of his mythical seven-year itch. Some biological anthropologists would excuse changing mates to continue expanding the species. For the Barnacle-Joyces, 1908 was that year coinciding with the second year of Amalia Popper’s English lessons under the Maestro (good evidence seems to suggest that lessons were being conducted in November 1909 too). In that year, Giorgio was age three, Lucia a toddler, the Joyce household chaotic, finances precarious, and Nora suffered depression. Then Jamsey turned to the appreciation of young women who were unencumbered with responsibility.

Since dissolute Dublin days, Dedalus was indiscriminate with his attentions. Trieste didn’t pen-up sensuality as Dublin did in Monto, but Joyce found himself annoyed by the obligations that adulthood would place even on an artist. Joyce prowled up and down a buffet of lust, regretting that he has sworn to a diet beneath his taste. His appetite is stirred, but did he sample from the menu?

Giacomo Joyce is explicit that the pursuit of the WHO is successfully concluded: “…welcoming darkness of her womanhood my soul, itself dissolving, has streamed and poured and flooded a liquid and abundant seed.” With WHOm? 

This canto offers clues to the identity of his lover. WHO among his prim, upper-class debutants could be called a hairdresser? WHO would be the inspiration for the looking glass servant as a tool for self-reflection– personal, artistic, and racial– that emerged in Ulysses (“the cracked lookingglass of a servant being the symbol of Irish art”)?

The WHO has knobby knees. Joyce’s head nestles on knobby knees as he sobs in remorse. He regrets his wish that he held the woman in such low regard that he would now share her with other men. This is not the only time voyeuristic Joyce suggested: “Take her now who will!” He lusted for many in an “adultery of wisdom,” but one relentlessly coiled around “Jim love.” Whether from timidity or latent Jesuit training, he remained faithful to relentlessly loving – “Nora!” (until Martha Fleishmann).

don ward October 20, 2020

(GJ) Canto XLIII (p. 15, ll. 8-14).

They spread under my feet carpets for the son of man…. darting at me for an instant out of her sluggish sidelong eyes a jet of liquorish venom. 

… to revise history for the sake of an artistic conclusion in his writing. The exception, of course, is (not was) recursive Finnegans Wake. Here Joyce avoided a conclusion altogether. 

Throughout Giacomo Joyce, the English tutor has been the predator, conniving to corrupt a juvenile student (unless you subscribe to the theory that declares Annie is the “Dark Who.” She was Joyce’s senior by a year.) So far, the work has been confessional. In parts, it even revels in the author’s dark intent. Here on the penultimate page, he recants his confessions and restores his shamed reputation, declaring himself to be a victim like the Christ. The canto portrays Giacomo’s Palm Sunday. He is the Son of Man, the embodiment of salvation- living, dead, and alive again. In this episode, he is, more than ever, the darling of the cheering Jerusalem crowd. Save one.

In the work’s closing sheets, a conspiracy of Iscariot and the serpent skulks through shadowy hallways. In four days, it will take down the Rabbi. Joyce is now the righteous hero. Beat him down. Nail him up. Tear him down. Wall him up. In the previous canto, Joyce introduced the reptilian basilisk that rules all serpents and kills with a poisonous glance. The dark-eyed “Who,” once an innocent, is suddenly now an insidious viper, and Joyce is the sacrificial lamb.

There are few weapons against the basilisk. One weapon is a Phoenix Tear. The recursively resurrecting Phoenix is also a symbol of Christ. Joyce has turned Giacomo Joyce on its head. Cassanova has become Christ, and the weak-eyed girl is the viper with her deadly glance. 

SHE has rejected Joyce’s wooing, and he will return his heart to Nora alone until Martha Fleishmann appears. Then the recursive dance of seduction will begin anew. Because James Joyce was most-often satisfied…

don ward October 15, 2020

(GJ) Canto XLII (p.15, ll. 1-6).

E col suo vedere attosca l’uomo quando lo vede.

(And with her sight, she attacks the man when she sees him.)

The eyes have it in this canto as Giacomo ferments into Ulysses. There are alms for a blind beggar in the prose poem, a lame veteran, and a blind stripling in the novel.

Joyce emerges from the opulent home of Baron Ambrogio Ralli, host to the city’s society. The Ralli House neighbors the residence of wealthy Annie Schliemer. For some, Annie contends as a possible identity of the “Dark Who,” along with Amalia Popper and Emma Cuzzi.

The area is plush, and a blind beggar might think this a good “sit” for his trade. Restaurant servers say that working-class patrons are more likely to leave appropriate tips than the very wealthy. However, Trieste is a European city where tips are not entitlements, but where citizens embrace personal responsibility for the poor. [In Valencia, I overheard a woman leaving a market apologize to a beggar because she had no cash for his paper cup. She promised to return immediately with coins. I choose to believe that she did. The exchange unfolded practically in the shadow of the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, Basilica of the Virgin of the Forsaken.]

Until his birthday in 1914, Joyce was the blind beggar in his most precarious financial state. After A Portrait’s serialization in The Egoist began, the Joyces found at least occasional relief until Jimsey could manage to binge away his good fortune on bar bills, dinners hosted, clothing, entertainment, ostentatious boons to beggars, and the occasional payment of past-due accounts. The subsequent patronage that allowed Joyce to produce Ulysses transmogrified him from the blind beggar into the blind stripling, stricken but known to have the mystical power to tune a tree stump, baling wire, and human bones into the piano (or the novel) that reveals the human soul.

In this incident from Giacomo Joyce, the poet, momentarily flush with cash and delight, finds himself eye to eye with the SHE who now despises him. SHE has become the black-eyed basilisk, a reptile that kills with a poisonous glance. She tosses a favor to her former teacher too by turning suddenly on her heel, avoiding eye contact, and by doing so, spares his life.

Images and phrases from Giacomo Joyce, like the seed of almsgiving so important in Judaic Law, often reroot in Ulysses. The precept of Tzedakah, or philanthropy, benefits the giver and recipient at least equally. As a frequent canny recipient of charity, this must have delighted Joyce. 

In Ulysses, Jewess Molly’s ample arm extends from her Eccles Street window to drop a coin to the begging veteran. She must reach past the sign that announces: Unfurnished Apartments. The sign is a signal to Blazes Boylan that the coast is clear for their assignation. The sign topples, her kindness balancing her infidelity, as Joyce might have reason to hope for himself. Similarly, “The Dark Who” receives the grace to suppress her homicidal intent after giving alms to the beggar.

don ward October 13, 2020