(D) about “An Encounter” June 14

The school year traditionally ended on June 30 (Terrence Murphy in “James Joyce and Narrative Territory: The Distinct Functions of Lost Time in ‘An Encounter” and ‘The Sisters'”), and Jackson and McGinley indicate Pluck’s first issue, in Joe Dillon’s “little library,” would not be available until June. Most significantly, the Joyce brothers miching expedition occurred on June 14. That is where we will place this story on our calendar.

Nautical invaders brought sexual segregation and sexual violence to Ireland. That segregation later extended through the educational system was part of a strategy, explicit or implicit, to emasculate the conquered race. Clerical celibacy, long contended against by the Catholic Church in Ireland, the product of aestheticism, misogyny, and avarice by the universal Church, has fueled sexual abuses even to modern times.

Fierce Celtic warriors went to battle painted and naked. The Greek Strabo described them as “war mad” (Wood The Celts 121). In Welsh lore, warriors fight eternally on Mayday for the singular most beautiful woman (124). The Celtic men were accompanied and led in battle by Celtic heroines and goddesses (Wood The Celtic Way 15). In Irish tradition, the separation of the sexes was long resisted, past the time when Roman Catholicism insisted on clerical celibacy. When finally imposed, the effects of clerical celibacy included hidden disgraces. Educational and nautical traditions, segregating the sexes and contributing to Celtic manhood’s emasculation, are also featured in Joyce’s “An Encounter.”

Irish wildness needed taming for the comfort and profit of Empire and Church. By the 4th Century, aesthetic influences flogged the Roman Church toward celibacy influenced by the writings of Saints Jerome, Ambrose, and a Spanish synod. This despite the refusal of The Council of Nicea to endorse celibacy in 325. By the 11th Century, much of the argument centered around the inheritance of priests’ property. In Ireland, clerical marriage was unquestioned, being status quo during the First Synod of Patrick. The saint’s father, in fact, was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. Brehon code also settled law about both married and unmarried priests and addressed the inheritance rights of clergys’ wives. At large in the Roman Church, the debate continued whether married priests’ would give first allegiance to Church or family. That argument continued until celibacy became another divisive issue between Luther and the Church of Rome (Ellis). 

Both law and canon regulation forbade Celtic tradition. Foreign refinements also superseded it, so Joe Dillon, the future celibate priest, converts from his tribe to pursue a new ideal. His regime will conquer and punish the natives, scorn female contact, and replace that contact with sadism and humiliation of the subjugated. Empire-building demands deployment away from familiar lovers, teaches regimented violence, and excuses larceny in the service of a vengeful deity. This is especially necessary to subvert the youth who might prefer “unkempt fierce and beautiful girls” (Joyce 24). The boys of “An Encounter” dream of sailing the three-master in the company of men. Their strategy is to lay siege to the Smoothing Iron. They have impounded Leo Dillon’s sixpence (28-29). In keeping with their indoctrination, “Smith and Murphy” set out on a males-only expedition with Mahoney chasing off “ragged girls.” Meanwhile, the unnamed boy plays sycophant to the Anglicized literary tastes of the “josser,” but he soon feels threatened with sadism as punishment for having a sweetheart (35).

Empires exist to seize the land and treasure of conquered indigenous peoples. Similarly, the Church took worldly wealth held by priests on their deaths. The indoctrinated boys have applied these lessons and impounded Leo Dillon’s sixpence (28-29). Mahoney scorns his companion’s fear they might “encounter” Fr. Butler during their miching: “What would Father Butler be doing out at the Pigeon House?” Torchiana points out that the Butlers, unlike most Irish Norman families, had never been entirely Hibernianized (38). Due to Crown loyalty, they retained great tracts of land, including property near the Pigeon House. The priest might have been there to look after family property seized from disenfranchised Celts (Tindall 18). Some or all of this property might pass to the Church on Butler’s death. This practice was no longer a requirement of Canon Law in Edwardian Ireland but a custom as described in Dubliners first story, “The Sisters.”

As the Stranger approaches, the unnamed boy chews at the shoots of the plant “on which girls tell fortunes” (Joyce 32). The device predicts an unholy meeting, recalls the old druidic worship of nature, and reflects on the traditional Celtic female’s good offices. Meanwhile, the josser circles rehearsing his lines, ” shabbily dressed in a suit of greenish-black and wore what we used to call a jerry hat with a high crown” (34). He re-establishes the ruined priest who in the collection’s first story has “a great wish for him (the boy)” (7). 

“about ‘An Encounter'”
(c) don ward 2021

Boy-Smith has been seduced into self-loathing by the “bullying vigor” of the future priest Joe Dillon. He is an indifferent Indian, and disappointed, he cultivated a desire for superiority from his peers. As a consequence, he inclines toward the green-eyed Other (Mooney 226-227). The analysis that James Degnan offers springs from Psychology. Living under foreign laws, conflicting traditions, commandments, and superego “… runs the risk of neurosis, emotional paralysis (the inability to function caused by perfectionism and scrupulosity) and of perverting his nature.” He fears that his refinements of taste and nature “have in them the seeds of the vices the old man embodies…” (Degnan 91-92).

To shed his Irish-Otherness, the boy gravitates to the Josser’s accent, education, and experience. These are the lures baited. The adventurers passed the site of the Danes’ Thingmote, the symbol of a foreign and imposed law. The Thingmote is also the site where Danes meted out punishment (Torchiana 46). It is the place for scourging, and scourging is another heritage of the maritime way. Joyce connects Mahoney’s catapult and harrying of the Pigeon House cat to the maritime discipline of the cat-o-nine-tails.

This pedophile’s syllabus for acolytes includes the writings of Lytton whose personal life was infamous, Scott, the model for A Portrait’s “perverse… captain,” and Moore who burned Byron’s diary because his friend George was “a bad man” (James Joyce’s Dubliners 16). Could Moore have been implicated in the journals? Irish education also adopted the practice of flailing the Otherness out of young scholars. In the story, Father Butler administers pedagogical abuse. Biographically, Joyce would “mich” on the day of the catechetical exam. This event concluded with his conflict with Father Henry, who then became the model for the green-eyed pervert (Ellmann 56).

The pedophile shifts his strategy from the seduction of Anglo-curious Boy-Smith to the trashing of Celtic-wild Mahoney-Murphy. He attempts to recruit Smith into his service:

He said that my friend was a very rough boy and asked did he get whipped often at school. I was going to reply indignantly that we were not National School boys to be whipped, as he called it; but I remained silent. He began to speak on the subject of chastising boys. (Joyce 37)

Alarmed, Smith withdraws, but tentatively. His hesitancy stems from a reluctance to abandon the Josser and return to Mahoney-Murphy whom he might have betrayed. He dallies, pretending to tie his shoe. The Josser holds a mystical and exotic power that holds the boy. A joss stick is an incense burned in honor of a Chinese god; in Finnegans Wake, “Lord Joss” refers to Jesus (Tindall 18). The boy has been under the trance of a Stranger, disguised in false religiosity, propriety and refinement. As Feshbach warns us, “The society’s purpose is to cloak disorder with mock virtues” ( 87).

The protagonist weakly confesses Mahoney’s near-betrayal as the story ends: “And I was penitent; for in my heart I had always despised him a little” (Joyce 39). How could it be otherwise after Leo Dillon’s defection, Dillon, who carried the names of Pope Leo, who spurned Home Rule for the Irish, and John Dillon, who declared against Parnell in his lowest days? Duplicitous Joe Dillion shifts between savagery and piety. Even the setting suggests betrayal. Here, government influence squelched O’Connell’s planned Dublin monster rally in 1843 (Torchiana 38-40). Betrayal is encouraged everywhere by the Stranger.

When discussing their actual day of truancy, Stanislaus referred to the odd fellow as “The Captain of Fifty.” The phrase refers to a biblical passage from 3. Isiah 3-10. In the selection, Isreal is threatened with the loss of its leaders. The younger Joyce brother suggested that “Captain of Fifty” become the title of the story. This title would be doubly appropriate since the Josser was about fifty years of age with a military bearing (Stanislaus Joyce 62). An elder, also disguised as a conquerer, a cleric, and a teacher would demand the boys’ respect and obedience.

Ireland would also lose its captains of fifty. Seafaring conquerors came from a nautical society where discipline had replaced affection, supplanting the native wild Celtic captains and queens. Perhaps the strangers were twenty years away from their natural loves. Perhaps they sailed under a situational ethic like green-eyed Odysseus. Perhaps, like the later Joycean Murphy in Ulysses’ Eumaeus episode, the raider had abandoned his wife and child for the sake of adventure. The Boy-Smith epiphanies that he is drifting without heritage or legacy: “As I did so I met the gaze of a pair of bottle-green eyes peering at me from under a twitching forehead” (Joyce 38). 

Works Cited

Degnan, James P. “The Encounter in Joyce’s ‘An      Encounter.'” Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 35, no. 1, 1989, pp. 89–93. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/441777. Retrieved April 2. 2021.

Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce, Oxford University Press, New York. 1983.

Ellis, P. B. (2005, September 21). “Celibacy in the Catholic Church,” https://www.archive.irishdemocrat.co.uk/features/celibacy-in-the-church/. Retrieved April 5, 2021. 

Feshbach, Sidney. “Death in ‘An Encounter.'” James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 2, 1965, pp. 82–89. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25486485. Retrieved April 2. 2021.

Hartdegen, Stephen J, and Christian P Ceroke. The New American Bible, Catholic Book Pub. Co, 1970, p. 749, 3. Isiah 3-10.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Enhanced Media, 2016, Retrieved March 28- April 12. 2021.

Joyce, James. James Joyce’s Dubliners: An Illustrated Edition with      Annotations, edited by John Wyse Jackson and Bernard McGinley, St. Martin’s Press, 1993, pp. 21-27.

Joyce, Stanislaus. My Brother’s Keeper: James Joyce’s Early Years, edited by Richard Ellmann, Da Capo Press, 1958, p. 62. 

Mooney, Susan. “Interrupted Masculinity in Dubliners: Anxiety, Shame, and Shontological Ethics.” Joyce Studies Annual, 2017, pp. 220–256. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/26798617. Retrieved March 31. 2021.

Power, Patrick. Sex and Marriage in Ancient Ireland. Mercier Press, 1976.

Tindall, William York. “Dubliners.” A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1959, pp. 17-19. 

Torchiana, Donald T.” ‘An Encounter’: Joyce’s History of Irish Failure in Roman, Saxon, and Scandinavian Dublin,” Backgrounds for Joyce’s Dubliners, Allen & Unwin, 1986, pp. 36-51.

Wood, Juliette. The Celtic Book of Living and Dying: the Illustrated Guide to Celtic Wisdom. Chartwell Books, Inc., 2012, pp. 12–19. 

Wood, Juliette. The Celts: Life, Myth, and Art, Watkins Pub., 2014, pp. 121–135. 

Joyce Seeing Eye to Eye with Picasso?: A Review of “James Joyce and the Cubist Esthetic.” by JO-ANNA ISAAK 


Source: Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, WINTER 1981, Vol. 14, No. 1 (WINTER 1981), pp. 61-90 

Published by: University of Manitoba

 Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24780356 


I am neither a physicist nor an art historian. I do have a layman’s interest in these disciplines but claim no expertise. I know a bit more about the writings of James Joyce, so my comments will lean toward the written word and may ignore some important points related to Cubism, Futurism, Photons, and Quantum Physics. The breadth of Isaak’s analysis is impressive. However, the reader should note that her work is forty years old, and these sciences are dynamic, not in content but in our knowledge of that content.

While I appreciate Isaak’s analysis, I find her discussion to be a comprehensive review of the art forms that emerged at the outset of the Twentieth Century. Joyce’s writing reflects only a few of these concepts and devices. In this review, I address matters related to the plastic arts, Simulteism, artistic image reflection, fluidity, and most importantly, the parallax as a device connecting artist, characters, and audience. 


p.63 (Isaak’s pagination)

“…(what) Stephen takes issue with is that painting and sculpture are essentially spatial form and therefore static whereas poetry is temporal a realization of sequence in time, and therefore dynamic.”

Joyce first wrote Stephen Hero during the period from 1904 to 1905. In 1905, Einstein experienced his “Miracle Year” when he authored his Nobel Prize-winning paper on Photons and his papers on General and Special Relativities. Joyce was famously a voracious reader but how much of Einstein’s theorizing was available to Joyce as he wrote these words is unknown. We can determine from Stephen Hero that Joyce was considering the perspective of the artist interacting with external objects as he created his art. But even the artist looking at the creation sees only one perspective of an object at a time. Futurists might say that all sculpture is dynamic since the observer in motion around an object “changes” the sculpture’s image. If Mr. Bloom walks around the statue of Venus in the National Museum in Scylla and Charybdis, he might stoop and twist to create a new perspective. In the context of Joyce’s novel, it is probably more important that the character interacts with a statue’s objective reality by creating new perspectives to elicit an altered subjective fluidity. Poldy looks for a feature in the statue that is not present. Its absence shapes his experience as surely as anatomical accuracy would have. One interpretation might be that art does not and cannot reflect objective reality. Fluidity (not the school of art but the experience) may result nonetheless. 

If a “reality” is a statue, it is not merely the result of the artist’s vision. It is also a view of art itself, in this case by Poldy’s character influencing the author who created him as much as by the sharpness of a specific chisel. There are also perspectives of other characters created by the artist and the perspective of the reader/viewer too. In fact, an infinite number of reader/viewer perspectives must be allowed for (or summarily dismissed). There are three classes of reality then to be considered. There is an objective reality that exists within the object observed. At any time, there can be only one objective reality, but over time even objectivity changes. A block of ice evaporates, gradually changing the mass of the block and creating water from the lost mass. Eventually, the ice ceases to exist, and the reality is only a puddle. That reality then evaporates. The realities most often addressed by Isaak’s experts are artistic egocentricities. That is, they are concerned only with how the artist perceives reality. This is itself a subjective reality. 

What we know of reality, even at a specified instant, is also dynamic. Our planetary world is dynamic, rotating on its axis, circumnavigating our star, and as a component of an expanding universe. At the opposite end of our scale of measurement are our atomic building blocks, always in motion. Another possibility, if String Theory is correct, might be that there are nine, eleven, thirteen iterations of every reality.

Monet’s treatment of gently shimmering colors and lights was, in part, the result of his degenerated vision. Degas also reproduced a reality that only existed for him. One of every twenty viewers of their paintings suffered from blue-green color blindness. The reality for that audience is different than the reality of the other ninety-five percent of viewers. And those realities are different than those of Monet or Degas. 

Next, we might consider the reality perceived by Joyce. Joyce remarks that the rhythm of poetry is fluid, so is observed reality. When the author describes the Irish Sea in Proteus, fireworks over the Star of the Sea in Nausicaa, or Circe’s crashing chandelier, he does so without the benefit of depth perception since his left eye is blurred or covered with a patch. His reality is not the reality of almost anyone else.

For Einstein, Joyce, Poldy, Monet, Degas, you or me, there is no objective reality, neither fluid nor static.

Mutability of Plastic Art Forms

p.64 and p.83

“Form in the plastic arts, according to Lessing, is necessarily spatial. Literature, on the other hand, makes use of language; composed of a succession of words proceeding through time, it is necessarily sequential.” 

Lessing’s definition doesn’t completely reflect the artistic tastes and styles of the last two centuries. Sculpture and graphic arts often include words, numbers, and symbols. Sometimes to the exclusion of other content. Robert Indiana’s sculpture “LOVE” might be the best example. This piece was first created as graphic art in 1965, then transposed to sculpture in 1970. According to Lessing’s description, Indiana’s work must be called literature. View the sculpture here:


Indiana’s recorded description of the sculpture includes. a short discussion of his poem “When the Word Is Love.” The sculpture is also a poem, the verse a physical message. The sculpture, as I view it, is more than a single word. There are several translations of the WORD (AMOR being one), but, in English, “VE” support “LO.” The “O” leans away from its “L” but retains some contact, distinct but also part of something greater than itself. The communication is greater than the sculpture. The meaning is greater than the physical structure of the word.

Isaak makes clear for us how kinetic is HELY’S wander through Joyce’s prose and static newsprint headline and copy become symbolic in ways that extend beyond the meaning of the words themselves. The heroic-sized S-M-P that begin the books of Ulysses, Isaak might have added, are more than letters, more than the words “Stately,” “Mr.,” and “Pursuant.” They are monuments attesting to the stature of the gods and goddess of Joyce’s new mythology. 

Similarly, “Picasso’s stenciled letters and Gris’ fragments of newspaper” are, at the same instant, as plastic and as fluid as Joycean prose. As discussed, Bloom’s examination of The Venus is not merely the review of a static object but also an exercise in stretching perception through time, space, perspective, the page’s prose, and the reader’s interaction.

Reflection and Perspective


“Once the apparent deformations of Cubism are seen in relation to the Theory of Relativity, then “the fact of moving around an object to seize several successive appearances, which, fused in a single image, reconstitute it in time, will no longer make thoughtful people indignant.” 13 What Metzinger seems to be echoing here is Einstein’s statement that ‘the description of an event will vary according to the position and relative motion of the observer.’ 14 Metzinger’s idea was to use the new physics to justify the Cubist method by arguing that Cubism, while apparently ‘irrelevant to reality,’ did, in fact, present a truer picture of things because it represented time, as the new theories did, as a dimension of space.” 

I find myself disagreeing with Metzinger’s assessment of Cubism as “irrelevant to reality,” both artistically and scientifically. However, the Cubist must be willing to share reality with others. The artist’s perspectives are only some of the infinite varieties of perspectives that may be drawing on subjective reality. The artist’s generosity must extend to subjects of art and viewers who interact with the art. 

Sometimes there might also be perspectives working inside the art among its subjects. Velásquez’ “Las Meninas,” conceived in the mid-Seventeenth Century, is the only example I may ever have the need to know. Here the primary subjects are The Infanta and her attendants. Excluding the canine perspective, there are eleven sets of optics active in the painting’s amber instant. All but the perspective of the Infanta are those of “Meninas” whose roles are to attend the princess. Only two of them are attentive to their charge. Millions of other Meninas have also craned necks in The Prado, some kneeling in front of the crowd, some to the left, others right, a few may inch past the limits of the tape on the floor, a poor few may never approach the canvas but only view it from across the gallery. Similarly, in Wandering Rocks, young Master Dignam’s reflection is at odds with his current mental state. His reflection is unrecognizable even to its owner. He is thinking not of his father’s passing but of a boxing match, not of a corpse but of pork chops.


Page 73

“Fragmentation is one of the most familiar characteristics of twentieth-century art: Yeat’s reference to our pluralistic world as one in which “the centre cannot hold” has become a cliché. But for the most part, the modern artist is not concerned with things holding, for holding implies stasis. He is not interested in the perfect, static state of being, but rather in the dynamism of becoming which inevitably involves destruction.” 

One example of the denial of the constant center in Joyce is his use of the parallax, the intersection of perspectives for common understanding. Bloom’s internal dialog of shifting mental perspective considers the proximate and distant marking of time with totems: physical, mental, and artistic. 

Episode 8, Ulysses

“Now that I come to think of it that ball falls at Greenwich time. It’s the clock is worked by an electric wire from Dunsink. Must go out there some first Saturday of the month. If I could get an introduction to professor Joly or learn up something about his family. That would do to: man always feels complimented. Flattery where least expected. Nobleman proud to be descended from some king’s mistress. His foremother. Lay it on with a trowel. Cap in hand goes through the land. Not go in and blurt out what you know you’re not to: what’s parallax? Show this gentleman the door.” 

Here in the Lestrygonian Episode, Mr. Bloom is considering optics under the influence of spacetime. Confronted with Dunsink Time and Molly’s approaching assignation with Boylan, Bloom wonders how the sight of the proximate (Molly’s meeting) can be offset by viewing it with the backdrop of a distant event (Bloom’s first kissing of Molly across time and space). The consideration of the infidelity on Greenwich Time would delay its occurrence by twenty-five minutes. When the hour arrives, Boylan seems to have delayed his departure for Eccles Street perhaps by twenty-five minutes as Bloom wished.

Episode 14, Ulysses

“Agendath is a wasteland….Parallax stalks behind and goads them,…. magnified in the deserted heavens, nay to heaven’s own magnitude, till it looms, vast, over the house of Virgo (Molly’s birth sign, my parenthetical). And lo, wonder of metempsychosis, it is she, the everlasting bride, harbinger of the daystar, the bride, ever virgin. It is she, Martha, thou lost one, Millicent, the young, the dear, the radiant. How serene does she now arise, a queen among the Pleiades, in the penultimate antelucan hour, shod in sandals of bright gold, coifed with a veil of what do you call it gossamer. It floats, it flows about her starborn flesh and loose it streams, emerald, sapphire, mauve[…]”

The episode Oxen of the Sun is a song of birth held up against the parallax of death. Bloom begins in contemplation of Rudy’s birth and descends to the conclusion that dearth, drought, and death plague his race. Then behind the proximate horrors appear a celestial constant, the parallax of Molly, virgin, Mother, and the model for all females. She connects today’s sorrow with a yesterday filled with hope and joy that persists today and will shine again tomorrow.

Episode 15, Ulysses

“CHRIS CALLINAN: What is the parallax of the subsolar ecliptic of Aldebaran?”

Barbara Stevens Huesel used Kain’s theory in describing how “parallax” joins the artist’s perspective with the common man’s, creating an integrated and focused vision. Failing to develop that perspective results in absurd misinterpretations of universal truths. Callinan represents the resulting absurdity. He was a journalist, conspicuous for comical inaccuracies and miscues. 


Joyce intersects artistic point of view, the melange of perspectives, image reflection, audience interplay, and parallax in Wandering Rocks. Wandering Rocks appears neither at the beginning nor the end of Ulysses but near the center where time, space, motion, and personality vectors converge. It’s also fitting that Wandering Rocks is not present in the Odyssey, known but never observed in the epic. 

In the ballet playing out on Dublin thoroughfares, the reader sees Poldy from his dark back and Molly’s alms-dropping arm from below. The Blooms separately appear, disappear and reappear in an instant but also in a sequence of events. Father Conmee strolls, stops, sits on a moving tram, and dispatches a post without ever nearing the box. The atomic H.E.L.Y.’S, having split to announce Eli’s prophesy, now re-fuse in their original energy, silently broadcasting messages in obverse and reverse. There is a shuffling of living and dead in a game of names, and the cavalcade of the viceregent becomes the parallax against which Kernan’s battered hat marks his prominence. Wandering Rocks unsettles any belief in objective reality. This is how Joyce and Picasso would have it, although neither needed the other’s perspective for confirmation.

(D) about “Araby” May 18

Residents of Dublin are paralyzed by the darkness. That darkness gathers under an enchanted cloak thrown across them. The cloak is woven of mythical threads of secrets of religious ritual, sexual mysteries, and the imperfection of courtly love.

Blindness has many causes. A Jackson and McGinley note for “Araby” points out that Launcelot found himself with “a great lust to sleep” after riding through summer’s heat (Malory 330). The knight fell into an incapacitating slumber under an apple tree like the one on Joyce’s Richmond Street blind and in that other Garden. While Launcelot shut his eyes, his nephew Lionel was taken prisoner and scourged with a cord of thorns, reminiscent of Christ’s passion. Deprived of his senses by sleep, Launcelot lost sight of the Godhead.

Asleep, a knight errant might lose contact with reality playing out around him. He might also dream, creating a different reality replacing the physical. He might be awake but hallucinating too, his senses “enchanted.” Illness could deprive him of sight or weaken it, or darkness obscure the physical world. Religious traditions, distortions of history, and sexual myths like those in Le Mort D’Arthur, may darken the historical past into legend. In the same way, Joyce’s stories begin in dark truth bent into myths of social and religious conventions. Launcelot and “Araby’s” boy are blinded by the myths of heroism and chivalry. They also lose sight of Christ, now under the Church’s shadow. William York Tindall in “Araby,” finds “… a disappointed quest, not for God…but for Ireland’s Church” (19).

“about ‘Araby'”
copyright(c) don ward 2021

While sleep is necessary, natural, and restorative to the senses, including sight, it may also be a vehicle for self-deception. “Araby” concludes Joyce’s treatment of childhood when dreams are most instrumental in development. Dreams are cryptical, deceptively symbolic, and elusive. In Joyce’s “The Sisters,” Joyce’s story about the dark mysteries of the Church and clergy, the boy dreams about the fallen priest. The dream is a revelation, but after the shade lifts, the boy cannot recall the truth revealed to him. He says, “I remembered that I had noticed long velvet curtains and a swinging lamp of antique fashion. I felt that I had been very far away, in some land where the customs were strange—in Persia” (Dubliners 13-14). Tindall observed that “The Church… is a more or less Oriental foundation” (20).

In “‘Araby’ and the Writings of James Joyce,” Harry Stone finds a mirror of Yeats’ “Our Lady of the Hills.” There, Catholic children mistake a well-heeled Protestant girl for the Virgin. They are justifiably outraged by the deception foisted on them by The Church and Irish culture under the clergy’s influence. The boy cries out: “Dad’s a divil, mum’s a divil and I’m a divil, and you are only an ordinary lady” (Stone 306-307).

In the Arthurian myths, in Joyce’s works, and in modern psychoanalysis, hallucinations or enchantments cheat the senses, especially the sense of sight. Arthur is born illegitimately but the rightful heir to the crown when Merlin casts a spell and Uther Pendragon appears in the guise of the rightful king. This deception results in the birth of “the once and future king.” In turn, Morgan Le Fay transforms herself and sleeps with her brother Arthur. The issue of this witchcraft is Arthur’s nephew-son and arch-enemy Mordred. Lady Elaine appears as Gwenievere; Launcelot impregnates her (Malory 1157-158). In Yeats, as discussed above, the Church deceives the children into believing the Mother of Christ is likely to walk the Earth. In Edwardian Dublin, enchantment continues too, as Masonic candidates transform through rites of initiation “in the light of secret knowledge” (Torchiana 61). That secret knowledge blinds the Catholic population as they flock to bazaars of 1892 (openly referred to as Masonic), the bazaar called the Kosmos 1893, and Araby in 1894. That last market drew 92,000 local, mostly Catholic pilgrims despite bad weather (58). In Joyce’s story, the sound of the bazaar’s name leaves the boy spellbound: “The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me” (Dubliners 46). One result is that he sees Mangan’s sister where he knows she cannot be in the magical night.

… I looked over at the dark house where she lived. I may have stood there for an hour, seeing nothing but the brown-clad figure cast by my imagination, touched discreetly by the lamplight at the curved neck, at the hand upon the railings and at the border below the dress” (47).

Optical failures result from the darkness as well as pathology. Other senses might also overpower sight. For example, the sound in “dark dripping gardens” or the smells in “dark odorous stables” (Joyce 41) can overwhelm the visual. As the hall goes dark, giant oriental jars become eunuchs guarding the harem against the boy, and his quest is foiled. In “The Sisters” and “An Encounter,” the boy has been indoctrinated into the power of ritual and sexual darkness. In the opening paragraphs of “Araby,” he welcomed and took advantage of the darkness where he “hid in the shadows” (James Joyce’s Dubliners 21), a partner to deception. He has also championed the lady of poet James Clarence Mangan’s “Dark Rosaleen” (Torchiana 61). The final realization of his unworthiness burns his eyes “with anguish and anger (52).

The boy’s indoctrination into the clandestine arts is central to what Burgess, summarizing the import of Dubliners’ opening stories, calls the “external mysteries- ritual and dementia and … now… love’s bitter mystery…” (39). The priest’s library offered a syllabus of deceit. Vidoc is “a double agent, vacillating between good and evil” (Torchiana 53) and a master of darkness and disguise. The author of The Devout Communicant sponsored Edward Gibbon’s conversion to Catholicism. Gibbon subsequently betrayed Catholicism blaming Christianity for the fall of the Roman Empire (54). In Walter Scott’s The Abbot, allegiances vacillate between Catholic and Protestant monarchs, and Mary Queen of Scots is thought to be alternately a saint and a “harlot” (Stone 310). The youth learned the power of secret rituals from the priest, about sexual depravity in “An Encounter,” and the corruption of simony around the edges of Araby’s profiteering. In the concluding story, he also practiced stealth, spying from beneath the hall curtain and pretending to share an accidental schedule with Mangan’s sister. Those small corruptions make him as unworthy of the Grail as the questing knights in Le Mort d’Arthur.

A trusted eye, less prone to deception, might guide the knight errant through the dark. In the simoniac’s way, “Araby” betrays that loyal eye for silver. “The Arab’s Farewell to His Steed” laments that “proudly arched and glossy neck, and dark and fiery eye,…. my steed, thou’rt sold” (James Joyce’s Dubliners  25). The poet, Caroline Norton, who wrote those lines, was herself bartered away by her husband, who facilitated her affair with Lord Melbourne (Stone 33). Norton then sued unsuccessfully for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

All ladies championed in quests may not be worthy. Mangan’s sister cannot attend the bazaar because she attends a retreat but twists her silver bracelet, signaling to the boy that he should bring her treasure from the quest. Stone notes that Joyce’s reference to Thomas de Quincey’s “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow” blends the virgin and the temptress: “Him I led astray, him I beguiled, and from heaven I stole away his young heart to mine. Through me he did become idolatrous….” (307). Like Raphael’s teenaged prostitute, his model for the Virgin, Mangan’s sister is also a corrupting influence. Stone continues to say that as women rise to the status of ideals, male devotion is corrupted: “…men in their yearning to worship, contrive (even desire) their own betrayal and insure (sic) their own disillusionment” (313).

In Malory, Sir Bors follows four holy women into the relic’s chamber. Bors, however, is unable to complete his mission because he is unworthy of the Grail. He is stricken blind by a silver sword (1157). Lancelot’s quest ends incomplete too. He encounters a holy man who counsels:

…seek it ye may well, but though it were here ye shall have no power to see it no more than a blind man should see a bright sword, and that is long on your sin,…. (1323).

Earlier, King Evelake obsessively seeks to view the Grail. For this reason, he is beaten, left with bruises across his body and face. In the end, he prays not that he would be allowed to see the Grail but to live until a kinsmen of his would see it (1297). In “The Sisters,” an unworthy priest drops the Grail and breaks it. The boy in “Araby” admits his unworthiness by looking for a child’s discount for admission. The Grail demands perfection.

The lessons of the childhood stories of Dubliners and of Le Mort d’Arthur reach the same conclusion. The ideals imposed by the Church, the mysteries of sex, and courtly love all lead to blindness. The boy of Dubliners might recite with Launcelot from Moore’s poem “Lalla Rookh”: “Oh ever thus from childhood’s hour/ I’ve seen my fondest hopes decay” (Torchiana 59).

Works Cited

Burgess, Anthony. ReJoyce. W.W. Norton & Co., 1966.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Enhanced Media, 2016.

Joyce, James. James Joyce’s Dubliners: An Illustrated Edition with Annotations, edited by John     Wyse Jackson and Bernard McGinley. St. Martin’s Press, 1993.

Malory, Thomas, Sir. Le Morte d’Arthur. The Modern Library, 1994. Apple Books.

Stone, Harry, “‘Araby’ and the Writings of James Joyce.” Joyce, James. Dubliners: Text and Criticism, edited by Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz, Penguin Books, 1996.

Tindall, William York. “Dubliners.” A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1959.

Torchiana, Donald T.” ‘Araby’: “The Self-Discovery of a Double Agent,” Backgrounds for Joyce’s Dubliners. Allen & Unwin, 1986.




Bloomsday Celebrations ’21 around the Globe


Neste ano, o Bloomsday de Florianópolis acontecerá nas páginas de um jornal, “O Dia de Hoje” que circulará online em 16 de junho, porém, o ano será o de 1904, data em que transcorre o enredo de “Ulisses” romance de Joyce
cujo protagonista, Leopoldo Bloom, leva e traz mensagens, por meio de núncios que recolhe entre os habitantes de Dublin para serem publicados, a
seguir, nos jornais locais.
A fim de criar o referido jornal, convidamos os interessados a enviar, até o dia 15 de maio, anúncios (sobre nascimentos, batizados, formaturas, casamentos, velórios etc.), escritos em inglês ou português, para o seguinte
e-mail: waltrickdoamarantedirce@gmail.com
Cada anúncio deverá ter cerca de cinco linhas, e poderá vir acompanhado ou não de uma imagem.
Além dos anúncios, o jornal também trará notícias verídicas sobre a Irlanda e o Brasil, tendo como referência o mês de junho de 1904. Quem
desejar colaborar com notícias, poderá enviá-las junto com o(s) anúncio(s).
Os organizadores
Clélia Mello,
Dirce Waltrick do Amarante e
Sérgio Medeiros
Florianopópolis ’21 Bloomsday (Brazil)
This year Florianópolis’ Bloomsday will come alive in the pages of a newspaper titled “Today”, which will circulate online on June 16th. The year, however, will be 1904, the date will be the day when the plot of Ulysses takes place. The protagonist of the novel, Leopold Bloom, corresponds with the inhabitants of Dublin through advertisements that he collects and arranges to publish in the local newspaper.
In order to create this journal, we invite those interested to participate in this celebration by sending announcements (about births, baptisms, graduations, weddings, funerals, etc.) they create for the publication. Announcements may be written in English or Portuguese and can be submitted until May 15th. Please send these by email to waltrickdoamarantedirce@gmail.com
Each announcement should have about five lines and can be sent with or without an image.
In addition to the announcements, the newspaper will also bring actual news about Ireland and Brazil from June 1904. Anyone who wishes to collaborate with news articles can send these alone or with an announcement(s).
The organizers
Clélia Mello,
Dirce Waltrick do Amarante e
Sergio Medeiros

Roger Cummisky’s Bloomsday Celebration: A Graphic Moment from the Tower in Amber

“The James Joyce Tower interior, Sandycove, Co Dublin by Roger Cummiskey”

Roger invites you to his celebration:


“Join us for Bloomsday 2021 in Kilfenora, Co Clare. We will read episode 11, Sirens set in the Ormond Hotel between 11 h and 12:30 h.”


Celebrating Like an Omniscientific Triestine

Des Gunning will spend Bloomsday ’21 at the annual Omniscientific Joyce event:

Between 14 and 18 June 2021, the city of Trieste and the Trieste Joyce School – Università degli studi di Trieste will play host to the 27th International James Joyce Symposium. Trieste, the city that Joyce dubbed ‘la mia seconda patria’, was his home for over a decade.

Alessandra Estreet Di Sante’s Personal, Private, and Catechetical Celebrations

(in the style of the Ithaca episode)

How will I celebrate Bloomsday?

Thinking back to when they celebrated in their home with friends. While children played nearby, indifferent to the celebration, we drank Guinness. Remembering the many readings of Joycian pieces. Remembering friends singing an old sad song. Remembering with enthusiasm and regret their Bloomsday in Dublin with gorgonzola and burgundy and Sandycove and Sandymount where they met a man, a woman, and a dog.

A loveletter from Molly Bloom of the Triestine Grand Canal ~ Don Ward, Belmont, North Carolina, USA

Between now and Bloomsday, I’ll share a few lines daily from Fulvio Rogantin’s El monalogo de Molly. During that time I’ll be attempting to read the masters’ prose in Triestine, the city where the novel Ulysses was born. I won’t subject readers to my translations since I know no Triestine dialect today and my Italian is limited to the New Jersey dialect which includes only a vocabulary of food and a fluency of insults.

This will become my submission to “Bloomsday ’21 Celebrations around the Globe,” timed to conclude on June 16th with Molly’s finale- “Si.


Where Has Your Copy of Ulysses Been?

The James Joyce Reading Circle targets a readership of about 400. That is the optimum size for a community. This is not done to be elitist but to try to actually know something about something about those we are trying to serve. That’s a typical size for an Amish community but not for a following on social media. 

Recently we invited readers to submit photos of their beloved volumes of Ulysses in typical local settings. Considering the small size of our circle and that a commercial venture would be thrilled with a response rate of 2%, I confess to badgering a few of you into participation, but not much license was taken in posting and counting generally unique submissions of Ulysses. The response has been gratifying and global. Here is a summary of your responses.

The exercise seems to have run its course. If new submissions are received, I’ll post those and share on social media. You seemed to enjoy the exercise and many of you went to some lengths to participate. I certainly have enjoyed witnessing the results. There are a few interesting stories revealed in the collection that should be shared one day with the permission of the individuals involved, so you may hear more about these.

What’s next? If there is any interest, we might begin to think about collecting photos of the Second Annual Bloomsday under Lockdown. How will you share a chicken kidney in private celebration (or perhaps just some Gorganzola and a glass of Burgandy, or a cup of Eucharistic instant cocoa)?  ~don 25 Mar ’27

Country Volumes Readers
Brazil 10 3
Canada 1 1
Georgia 2 3
India 1 1
Ireland 6 7
Isreal 1 1
Italy 8 6
Mexico 5 2
Peru 2 2
Russia 1 1
Spain 1 1
US 5 5
Total Readers 33
Total Volumes 43  

Spreadsheet current as of 2 April 2021

You and I might have carried our copies of Ulysses to coffee bars, on trams, even secretly into boring meetings when these venues were available to us. Ulysses always went on vacation with me physically or digitally. Unlike less important accouterments, like my keys, I always know where Ulysses is. Today we began collecting photos of Ulysses wherever it might wander. The tome will be seen in locations homey, coruscating, and exotic (oops, that’s the wrong book). Join us by posting a photo of your Ulysses as a comment here or message a pic to me on Facebook or Twitter.

Translator Mario Biondi’s edition at the Duomo di Milano.

and with a bit of digital legerdemain…

“Oh, it was near me (in my thoughts) also when I was there, under the ‘Great Mother Qomolangma’, the Everest…A little over the Chinese (Tibet) EBC, under the North Face, 5200 mts and more. Yes, the book is superimposed (by me, this morning): I was there 13 years ago.”
Professor Dirce Waltrick Do Amarante of UFSC and Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil shares one annotated Ulysses, and three Brazilian translations of the book: António Houaiss, Bernardina Pinheiro, and Caetano Galindo
Tímea Mészáros sends a picture of a Jostling of Joyceana at THE MARTELLO TOWER. This is the first posting of a location from the novel.
Don Ward’s Ulysses in Belmont, North Carolina USA
From under his cappello fortunato, Fulvio Rogantin says: “Me and my translation with James in Trieste.”
The Estimable Aquinaldo Severino in the Heart of the Sao Paulo Metropolis shares five Portuguese translations: 1966 (Houaiss), 1985 (Palma-Ferreira), 2005 (Silveira), 2012 (Galindo), 2013 (Vaz de Carvalho)
One of Talia Abu’s many copies in Tel Aviv is in Hebrew.
Sandymount-born Tom O’Carroll’s spine and pages now in Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA
Tirna Chandra’s Ulysses lounges in a Springlit garden in sunny Shillong, India.
The Estimable Aquinaldo Severino in the Heart of the Sao Paulo Metropolis shares five Portuguese translations: 1966 (Houaiss), 1985 (Palma-Ferreira), 2005 (Silveira), 2012 (Galindo), 2013 (Vaz de Carvalho)
Tom Mc Dade’s Ulysses historically in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA
Cesar Eduardo Villarroel Machaca’s well-used copy reigns, front and back, in Huarmey, Peru.


What better expression of the treasure in Ulysses than when it is given as a legacy from father to son, from Ulysses to Telemachus, from Bloom to Stephen, from Eduardo Villarroel Villarroel to Cesar Eduardo Villarroel Machaca in the city of patriots- Tacna, Peru.
Elisa Susmel adds to the gallery: “This is the Penguin edition. This is one of James Joyce’s statues in Trieste, the city where the journey began.”

Vince Vinnus, Producer Director at Grandes Felinos Teatro, in Caieiras, SP, Brazil reads Ulysses and Finnegans Wake too with a style of which Joyce would approve.


Siobhán McCann of Montreal, Canada writes:
“The woodpile is one of my favourite places to hang out up at Innisfree, my retreat in the Laurentian mountains north of Montréal. It’s a long way from the rhododendrons of Howth Head but Molly’s yes still rings true in the call of Spring and the promise of new life at the end of a long, long winter.
Frank Folan reads his Ulysses at Ireland’s most magical site, The Burren, County Clare.
Mary Lawton of Cork, IRE shares, “Mine is a run of the mill Penguin edition. I have no favourite copy as such….. I attach an image of Ulysses and its counterpart.” If you know Mary, you expect this “run of the mill Penguin” has been wrung out gently but as thoroughly as few wet birds have been. Every drop extracted.
Tamar Ra and her happy children read Ulysses in Tbilisi, Georgia. If ever children were destined to be wise and worded.

“Bloom Cure” tunes a quartet of copies in Mexico City.

Joycean Trieste affords Ilaria Susmel both atmosphere and context when reading her copy of Ulysses.
Ilaria Susmel also sends Easter and Passover greetings saying: “One of my Italian translations loves spending time in the garden with me.”
Alexei Odollamsky’s Ulysses braves the Russian snows.
Tom Hamilton of Bend, Oregon, USA covers us in a typically Joycean fashion. Sláinte!
Eddard Gombao: “Greetings from the glorious and wonderful City of Mexico.”
Aj Gross likes his Joyce horizontal or vertical in Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Silvia Margherita German and her mother share a vintage and beautifully crafted Italian edition.

Pat Howard reports the rain has ceased in Limerick. His Ulysses ventures out to Clancy Strand for a “view of the Treaty Stone, King John’s Castle, and ‘the dark mutinous Shannon waves.’”
Lucilla Micacchi has a traveling library of Joyce’s works in addition to her primary collection that remains at home in Italy. Lucilla’s itinerant collection of the Bloom Book is currently on tour in Madrid.

(D)about “A Little Cloud” ~December 1 (“Late Autumn”)

Joyce named this story as a personal favorite. He honored it by returning to the title imagery repeatedly over the thirty-five years that followed. The little cloud originates in Elijah’s ascension in a fiery chariot and a wailing child in Blake’s “Mad Song.” Gordon economically says “A Little Cloud” “…reflects the kinds of allusions that Chandler will put in his poetry” (167). Other literary connections already mentioned expand the symbol’s meaning beyond the narrative. Mary Reynolds lassoes Elijah’s Biblical cloud (399) and tethers it to the story, focusing the tale through Dante’s lens in Inferno (Canto XXVI). Once visibly flaming, the fiery chariot is now nearly out of sight, leaving just a memory of the conflagration before its ascent.

Chandler squints after the cloud and toward a celestial and imaginary career, ignoring the resultant destruction of his family. The Blake connection recalls his poem “Mad Song.” There, a demonic infant “like a fiend hid in a cloud” drops into a father’s world, pressing egotistical demands (Jackson and McGinley). In “A Little Cloud,” the wailing child might learn or inherit ways from a father, afire with self-interest.

In A Portrait, Joyce treats childish, aspirational clouds with mockery. Clouds girdle Earth’s sphere on the frontspage of Little Stephen’s schoolbook. He colors the clouds maroon. Later in the novel, clouds become not a vehicle of escape but a conveyance carrying Christ for the Last Judgement with Dedalus doomed by dreams contrary to salvation. In “A Little Cloud,” Chandler considers abandoning his family to pursue ethereal art. Giacomo Joyce reveals the cloud descended to Earth, grey and putrid. In the prose poem, Joyce imagines the conquest of the forbidden Amalia Popper. His obsession vaporizes after his victory. In Finnegans Wake, Joyce again connects the collision of artistic aspiration and family responsibility. Issy has assumed the formlessness of Nuvoletta “…climbed over the banisters; she gave a childy cloudy cry: Nuee! Nuee!” (159.2-3) to mark the combat of the Penman and Postman as art and responsibility. Joyce is then out of synch with chronology, as he often likes to be. He had resolved that conflict by conjoining Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus under a single identity beneath Elijah’s “matitudinal cloud.” William York Tindall sees Polonius in Stephen’s aspirations before this mixing of souls. Stephen says, “Ay, very like a whale,” repeating the courtier’s sycophantic seconding of Hamlet’s mention of a little cloud (Tindall 28 and Shakespeare Act III, sc ii).

Elijah's Cloud Chariot
copyright (C) don ward 2021

Joyce’s protracted use of the “little cloud” develops his theme with a logical if not chronological culmination in Ulysses. Chandler’s retarded spiritual development springs forth early in Joyce’s ontological journey. Little Chandler may be the least ethically evolved representation of the characters chasing the cloud (Stephen, Chandler, Giacomo, and Shem/Shawn’s unresolved shared identity). O’Grady attributes the resulting epiphanies not to growth through experience by the character but to lost innocence (403). 

The commentary of recognizable names in Joyceana compares Thomas Chandler with James Duffy (a cold cod in “A Painful Case”), Lenehan (envious pilotfish of “Two Gallants”), and Jimmy Doyle (hooked flounder of “After the Races”). Another comparison might be to Farrington. Chandler and Farrington share approximate age (thirty-two and thirty-eight, respectively). Both are members of the lower middle class but excited by visits to low-class haunts. The two share the clerk’s occupation. They are unhappy husbands and destructive fathers.

Although Chandler and Farrington began in similar circumstances, they follow different clouds to different ends on equally disastrous prevailing winds. Chandler’s cloud lures him to grab for his art by bartering his family. He cultivated a prissy, passive persona and an obedient anima. Farrington, whose name in the Irish language, Jackson and McGinley tell, suggests both man and pig, hopes to roam his world like a Stone Age brute. Farrington’s ways are tempered but never quieted by God nor man. He loosens his shackles through enthusiastic alcoholism. Alcohol also briefly unshackles Chandler.

When drinking, Farrington rules his domain. Sober, we suspect, he answers to Mrs. Farrington’s discipline. Chandler, normally abstinent, slips into an inappropriate assertiveness under the uncustomary influence. He secretly wishes to be free of Annie: “Not e’en a Zephyr wanders through the grove,/ Whilst I return to view my Margaret’s tomb/ And scatter flowers on the dust I love.” In Dubliners, both direct their rage, not against their wives but their sons, future copies of themselves. Farrington and Chandler both came to their current states through a loss of innocence with dulled perceptions anesthetized by alcohol. 

Farrington is the more corrupted of the two, not because he chose a worse path but because he has stumbled along longer. He is under the influence of Irish manhood “overvalorized mythically” as Mooney quotes Valenti (222). Chandler has wished Annie dead, but delicately and poetically. He brutalizes not a young boy but an infant. The potential for the corruption of T. Malone Chandler is at least as great as the corruption already realized in Farrington. At birth, Man Farrington, Boy Tom Farrington, Man Tommy Chandler, and Little Lambkins Chandler are all paralyzed by mother and Church’s influence by daylight and rebel against an oppressor with primitive urges by night. At birth, all are natural-born Farringtons. Weathers and Gallaher represent the oppressor in the stories. Weathers is English; Gallaher is Anglicized. As Gallaher proves, success demands an abandonment of the wombs of innocence, motherly love, Church, and homeland. Tindall calls the delicate mutual scorn of Chandler and Gallaher an “approach to the affairs of Shem and Shaun” (26).

One Joycean critic who briefly includes a comparison of Chandler and Farrington in her analysis is Kathleen Heininge. She focuses the effects of paternal paralysis on children “above all others trapped in their situations, victims of those around them” (271). Her discussion of the Irish Language’s “habitual present tense” suggests a tendency toward paralysis. Heininge predicts “…Chandler’s anxieties will eventually turn him into Mr. Kernan” (267). “Counterparts” refers to a true copy of a legal document. Chandler will become a true copy of Farrington. Lambkins is in danger of expressing a true copy of his father. 

There is hope yet. If followed faithfully, the little cloud leads to Elijah’s revitalizing rain on a fertile plain where all life’s troubles resolve in Leopold Bloom. While Chandler-paralyzed dares not to look at the “alarmed Atalantas,” Bloom’s gaze is brazen. He takes in the next-door maid, a great lady ascending a carriage, Gerty MacDowell, and a marble Venus with equal “relish.” Chandler’s oysters are a fare too rich for him. On Bloom’s plate, oysters are the vehicle for his flirtation with Mary Driscoll. The escapade ironically further establishes Molly’s control over her wandering husband.

T.Malloy Chandler imagines a day-dream literary occupation; Bloom on trial in Circe’s den also claims a fictive living by the pen. He says…

Well, I follow a literary occupation, author-journalist. In fact we are just bringing out a collection of prize stories of which I am the inventor, something that is an entirely new departure. I am connected with the British and Irish press.

Chandler is an under-ripe 32-year-old. There are options to ripen or rotten by aged 38, the age of Farrington and Bloom. At his present age, Tindall calls our antihero “Prufrock’s ancestor” (241). He anticipates T.S. Eliot by a decade, but Joyce is not Eliot. In Joyce’s quantum spacetime wonderland, Chandler can grow into Bloom, concurrently appear as T. Malone or conjoined Shem/Shaum, or collapse into Farrington.

(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


The literary heritage of Fifteen Usher’s Island has been lost for 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 preferred 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