(D) about “Two Gallants,” August, Month of the Donnybrook Fair

Under the lens of Florence Walsl, “Two Gallants” focused on three levels of “betrayal social, political, and religious.” In this essay, you will find a synthesis of what other notables have said organized under Walsl’s analysis. The betrayals act out in personal relationships, institutional contracts, and spiritual compacts.

Joyce draws crosshatched shadows of betrayal on the story’s harp and slavey as symbols of Ireland.

… a harpist stood in the roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of each newcomer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp, too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands. (Joyce 85)

Joyce draws the harp as an anthropomorphic and symbolic allusion to Ireland. It has a gender. Her shame has grown old, and she too weary for dignity. She sighs. Both harpist and instrument are watchful for strangers, wary of masters, and fearful of unlucky skies. The harpist strums “Silent, O Moyle” a tune of longing for deliverance from a long, forced, unnatural transformation.

Litz says Joyce, like Yeats, admired the Irish peasant virtues. Life in too-English Dublin corrodes the native qualities(68). That corruption is the fate of the gallants’ target, the unnamed slavey. On the fence of the Duke’s Lawn, a somber Lenehan plucks at the metal rails. He may be lusting for the slavey as harp or mourning her betrayal in the harpist’s tune (Joyce 89). Lir’s daughter in the lyric is enchanted into a swan’s form until redemption comes to Ireland (Scholes and Litz 468n54.14 ).

Torciano is the best cartographer of Lenehan’s stroll. Bloom thought it a good puzzle to cross Dublin without passing a pub. In “Two Gallants,” Lenehan traces a trail of treachery where each block posts a reminder of theft and brutality. I won’t repeat Torciano’s work here but will list a few of his monuments to monstrosity.

Lenehan marches off from Waterhouse’s clock, gold and silver platers to the Crown. That locale was a common rendezvous for rogues and the woman they ruined. Jackson and McGinley share that in a 1904 letter, Gogarty referred to Nora as one of those pursued “slaveys” (43). The first landmark is the Kildare Club descended from the Hell Fire and Daly Clubs. There the most arrogant of the Dublin Bucks ( Bucks Whaley, Lawless, English, et al.) collected. Rutland Square was the typical haunt of the elder Whaley, a priest hunter, called “Burnchapel.” Here also Earl Clonmell cashed in on the trust of Catholic lands he oversaw. He seized the deeds without apology. On Upper Sackville, Lord Charlemont refused to call the Volunteers to resist the Act of Union. Nearby were Grand Orange Hall and Rotunda Hospital. The hospital’s Master Frederick Jebb wrote against the Union, then accepted a lifelong stipend to turn out propaganda for the Crown. Stephens Green faced the mansions of Lords Ely and Loftus, who pocketed bribes of thirty thousand pounds to vote for Union. The Shelbourne, lost by the Earl’s family, became a British barracks and site of “inquisition and torture.” Merrion Square faces the house where Thomas Reynolds betrayed Edward Fitzgerald. On Capel Street, Lenehan crosses where King James’ Mint House stood; from there, brass coins debased Ireland’s currency. The Royal Exchange had housed yet another barracks and torture chamber (Torciano 92-104).

When describing the three-headed betrayal, Walsl says, “Two Gallants” shows the men of Ireland betraying their potential and futures, betraying Ireland as a nation, and betraying the religious symbolism of Christ betrayed (Walzl 75). Lutz has another thought. He says, “But Joyce’s irony cuts two ways, and the story strongly implies that the parasitic attitudes of Corley and Lenehan were always a part of the traditional code of gallantry.” Litz calls this “an attack upon the stock responses and illusions of romantic fiction.” He continues by reminding the reader of The Three Musketeers, where Pothos accepts stolen money from the procurator’s wife (Litz 64-65). While Corley plays the corrupter and Lenehan the sycophant, the seducer as a police informant also represents the Crown and Lenehan plays Ireland on a starvation diet of gardener’s green peas and ginger beer, orange and weak (Jackson and McGinley 49).

Would-be-bully Corley is known for his father’s position with the police and for sharing his elder’s inherited “frame and gait” (Joyce 80). Without resources of his own, Childe Corley makes ends meet as a police informant. He tells his girl-victim he is recently out of work with posh Pims, and she soothes him with two plundered cigars. This slavey will not be the first he deflowers, but like her predecessors, she may find herself
” on the turf….driving down Earl Street one night with two fellows…” (Joyce 83). Then Corley will deny responsibility for another fall. His model is Homer’s Melanthius, a falsehearted goatherd (Jackson and McGinley 43). Scholes and Litz recommend that Corley “aspirated the first letter (of his name echoing)… Dante’s ‘gallantry’ toward Beatrice” (467n52.2). It’s unlikely Corley could manage such sophistication, although Lenehan might. Better is the suggestion of Jackson and McGinley that Corley played the Florentine pronunciation of the initial “C” of his name like “H” making Corley into Whore-ly ( 44).

Lord John Corley, so-called for his claim to biological if not hereditary ties to a Malahide, is sometimes compared with the oppressor John Scott, Earl of Clonmel. Torciano extends complimentary honors to Lenehan, comparing him to the Irish traitor “False Squire” Francis Higgins.

In Corley and Lenehan, William Tindall finds the origin of Joyce’s brotherly combat. Lenehan, sometimes a sycophant for the sake of a drink or a cigarette, at times is unable to hide that his wit is sharper than Lord Corley’s. Lenehan’s dish of peas is his pottage, the selling of his birthright. They reflect Jacob and Esau. This is the prototype of Joyce’s “brotherly” conflicts– Stephen and Mulligan, Shem and Shaun (Tindall 24-25).

Ellmann insists that Lenehan and the Dubliner Michael Hart he was sketched after were not representations of Joyce, but that the similarity was limited to a slightness of stature. This may be true, but critics point out that Joyce’s “vagrant armed with a vast stock of stories, limericks and riddles” shows what his fate might be had he remained in Dublin with underappreciated talents. It was not simply that Joyce might wear a yachting cap or that he carried “seedy scraps of culture round.” He often needed a loan or a drink or cigarette. Like Lenehan, Joyce might also wonder about being …

…tired of knocking about, of pulling the devil by the tail, of shifts and intrigues…. Would he never get a good job? Would he never have a home of his own? He thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and a good dinner to sit down to. He had walked the streets long enough (Joyce 92).

Would Joyce write copy (like the racing interview he faked for the Gordon-Bennett Cup) and subjugate his art? Would he serve at the court of the last of the haughty Bucks from Rutland Square? Walsl is among those who see the character of Lenahan as a refusal of that destiny (74). The dawning of 1910 found Joyce back in Dublin after struggling to open the Volta Theatre. There and in possession of some remaining cash, his old creditors and those wishing to touch him for loans accosted him. He saw the historical Corley, a model for the character’s stature, name, and penury. Knowing he would be asked to lend, Joyce ducked onto a tram to dodge the “touch” (Ellmann 305).

Mother of pearl buttons, a jeweler’s clock, a double haloed moon each symbolize the Eucharist and portends an offered redemption. “Silent, O Moyle” predicted the curse would remain until religion redeems the island. The images foretell offers of grace to Ireland, to emigre Joyce, and to Lenehan. Grace may be accepted or ignored, and Lenehan’s salvation is unreported. We know that clouds immediately obscure his haloed moon, and the tale of seduction, theft, and corruption unfolds on a Sunday. Divine support extended against Walsl’s three betrayals (personal, institutional, and religious) is countervailed by another disk, the gold sovereign (or half sovereign). That gold in reverse and perverse alchemy transforms into “rounds” of drinks buying the souls of slavey, Lord Corley, and Lenehan.


Works Cited

Burgess, Anthony. ReJoyce. Second ed., W.W. Norton & Company, New York. 1965, pp. 35–47. 

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

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Enhanced Media, 2016, Retrieved July 14- July 17. 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. 42-52.

Litz, A. Walton. “James Joyce’s Dubliners: Critical Essays.” James Joyce’s Dubliners: Critical Essays, edited by Clive Hart, Viking Press, 1969, pp. 62–71. 

Scholes, Robert and A. Walton Litz, editors. James Joyce’s Dubliners: Text and Criticism. Penguin Books, 1996, pp. 467-469. 

Tindall, William York. “Dubliners.” A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1959, pp. 23-25. 

Torchiana, Donald T.” ‘Two Gallants’: A Walk through the Ascendancy,” Backgrounds for Joyce’s Dubliners, Allen & Unwin, 1986, pp. 91-108.

Walzl, Florence L. “Symbolism in Joyce’s ‘Two Gallants’ – JSTOR.” JSTOR1965, James Joyce Quarterly, 1965, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25486484. 


The U22 Podcast, Week 3 (Proteus) and Ilaria Susmel’s Contribution

To quote W.C. Fields, I’ll begin by saying, “Pardon my redundancy, Pardon my redundancy.” Today is not the first time I have noted that this site exists for two purposes. It may encourage a few first-time readers to crack the spine of a book written by Sunny Jim. Secondly, it promotes an international community of Joyceana,

The Ulysses Centennary podcast U22 is marshaled ably by Catherine Flynn of Berkeley (not the bishop but the California university). After three episodes, I conclude the strategy is to provide experiences and impressions from three classes of literary wanderers: researchers, teachers, and readers. That design, this week, first served Ilaria Susmel’s musings. She spoke to the interests of both the first-time reader and internationally interested readers lured from Shanghai to Sandymount and Monterey to Monto.

Ilaria was born as both a serial and international reader of Ulysses when she lived for three years in Dublin. There she braved public readings of the book at Sweny’s Pharmacy, encouraged by readers of more than a few nations. If she ever was hesitant to fly the banner of her love for Ulysses and Joyce’s lyrical language, she unfurls it now. You will hear her speak with affection about the reshaping of Joyce’s language from a Germanic language to the Romance tongues, about conservatory and exploratory translations. Most enthusiastically of all, she speaks of the musicality that persists across languages. This may be how an unlikely international community of readers binds together across oceans and mountain ranges.

The third layer of the podcast sandwichs Sam Slote’s academic discussion with another treatment of translation. Piotr Prachnio’s translation, however, is like no other. He briefly discusses the translation of sound from one culture through onomatopoeia into all languages. [Excuse me if I don’t wander off discussing how a dog’s bark or the pussen’s “Mkgnao!” is rendered differently in Chinese or Russian.]

Witnessing Omniscientific Joyce’s presentation on Translating Oxen of the Sun dismayed me. I became convinced that Joyce’s complete meaning could be unrenderable due to nuances of vocabulary, idiom, or culture. In this podcast, you’ll hear that meaning is not the sum of the literary parts. I enjoy the cadence and music of words, but I consider the poetry of prose to be secondary to the message. Listening to this podcast, I agreed to examine language solely for its beauty. Where meaning fails, there is another vehicle of communication. Agreed: failing to consider lyricism fully lessens the message.

Yes, I skipped over Professor Slote’s discussion of academic protein between two slices of translation in Proteus. Academics do great service in earning their bread by basting this protein. Some of this will attract readers of the JJRC. Slote’s essay is to be published, I believe, in the collection that will be the capstone of the U22 project. However. The one-hundredth celebration of the anniversary of Ulysses’s publication is assured, but the one hundred fiftieth anniversary is in question. It will take two new generations of readers to make a sesquicentennial. This is the audience I pursue. I’ll leave the discussion of Aristotelian baldness to others better qualified than I. While there may not be hilarity in the Proteus episode, there are maxims for living. Living and hilarity are specialties of mine; I’ll focus there.

Ilaria’s enthusiasm for Ulysses’ as a literary passport will entice a few of those needed readers. Next year and in coming years, attendees at The Joyce Centre’s Bloomsday, Bloomsday on Broadway, BloomsdayMontréal, or Omniscientific Joyce in attendance may represent demographics other than mine, the homely and decrepit. For a later U22 production, I’ll lisp a few words. They won’t be as entertaining or energized as Ilaria’s. That’s not my role or my nature. I know my mission.

Find the podcast at U22pod.com

A Review of Miss Lonelyhearts: An unlikely comparison of the writings of Nathanael West and Flannery O’Connor

It began two months ago when I watched and did research on the movie Suspicion. It is not a great movie. I would not even call it a good movie. Researching it, I discovered Nathanael West had written the screenplay, but before he delivered the script, the Hitchcock/Reviles, with help, had pieced together a script of their own. I saw that West had also written The Day of the Locust subsequently turned into a film that I admired. 

A friend and I were looking at Hitchcocks, first to last, best to worst. If I thought Suspicion was among the least of these, Rear Window was among the best. Here a tribute to West appeared in the character of disappointed Miss Lonelyhearts. Then a favorable mention of West’s novel of the same title popped into the correspondence of Flannery O’Connor. Then another. 

Nathanael West was born Nathan Weinstein in New York after the dawn of the Twentieth Century. An indifferent student, he dropped out of high school but used a forged transcript to enter Tufts University. Expelled from Tufts, he borrowed a cousin’s transcript, another Nathan Weinstein, to enroll at Brown. There, while others went to class, Nathan read French Surrealists and Irish mystic poets. His reading and writing resulted in a novel by 1931 and a second, Miss Lonelyhearts, by 1933. In 1939, he moved to Hollywood as a screenwriter. The move yielded his other notable novel, The Day of the Locust. 

He changed his name during his short career, flirted with Christianity, and became a fallen-away socialist. His life ended in the last days of 1940 when returning from a hunting trip with his wife. He ran a red light. Both were killed. He was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Queens, NY.

If you know the ethos (and pathos and logos) of Flannery O’Connor, you might not expect any intersection of her arc with West’s beyond shared humanity played out over lives too-short; after even a cursory look at Miss Lonelyhearts, you might reconsider.

At the center of O’Connor’s work is the acceptance, more often the rejection, of second chances (unearned grace, if you prefer her context). The great failings in her characters spring from beliefs that they are preeminent by birth, education, or station. These characters substitute status, often a status unrecognizable to any but the character him or herself—no plan or purpose for living anchors these soulless moderns. West’s character Lonelyhearts is another of these.

“Freaks” scatter among O’Connor’s modern morality plays. Unsuccessful freaks include but are not limited to amputees Hulga in “Good Country People” and Shiftlet in “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” and psychopaths like the Misfit of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The hermaphrodite in her story “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” is one who accepts painful and unavoidable fate and defiantly insists on his and her humanity. West’s protagonist Miss Lonelyhearts is also a hermaphrodite of a sort. He is a man in the guise of a woman, a man whose masculine name remains unknown, who pens an advice column under her pseudonym. In The Day of the Locust, one West “grotesque” (to use Sherwood Anderson’s term) is a tormented soul with gigantic hands driven to murder a child movie star.

Lonelyhearts is aware that salvation awaits him in the stack of letters begging for advice. Personally dissolute, he seduces ineptly, drinks to excess, and misuses his influence over those who ask his help. Throughout this, he explicitly cries out for salvation, saying, “Christ was the answer, but, if he did not want to get sick, he had to stay away from the Christ business.” In Lonelyhearts’ world of Post-Modernists and psychoanalysts, salvation is a pathology. His editor, Shrike, who he attempts to cuckold, mocks Lonelyhearts’ struggle for salvation.

The O’Connor canon leaves us with violent deaths, directly or indirectly resulting from collisions with grace. In a few cases, her protagonist probably accepted salvation. In most cases, however, there is no outward sign that the epiphany took hold. In West, there are also violent ends. As Miss Lonelyhearts ends, the hero/ine sincerely ministers to the disabled grotesque he victimized. “I accept. I accept,” says Lonelyhearts. The gun goes off.

The Flannery O’Corner

Until very recently This website has been strictly limited to matters related to the writings of James Joyce. Today, we’ll provide some space for another writer most Catholic and most Irish. Just as Joyce was misinterpreted by Catholics and not a resident of Ireland, Mary Flannery O’Connor, as a “hillbilly Thomist,” was mistrusted and misconstrued by Catholics. She too was a product of the Irish diaspora. Joyce’s star continues to rise. O’Connor’s is more cloaked in misunderstanding today than ever before.

(U) Episode 6 Hades: An “Original” Sonnet, “Will You Reduce Paddy to a Lump of Clay? (With help from WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE)”


Will Browne reduce him to a lump of clay?

As humours shift, calm to intemperate;

St. Vitus shook his extremities Gray,

His lease is up. They’re here to mark his fate;

One time! Too flat the arch of vital signs,

Macintosh has goodman Dignam limed;

Inactive Paddy willingly reclines,

He’ll miss the three-sheet morning sails untrimmed;

Had he but spared the Bass for Gatorade,

The honored guest would not be at his low’st;

Widow flush with coin; parched clerk just parades,

A party brews. Unfair! He’s but a ghost:

Men will toast “As good a man as wore a hat.”

And he not here to blow the foam off that.

(D) about “After the Race,” July 2, Anniversary of the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race in Ireland

Today on the 98th anniversary of Ireland’s hosting of the Gordon Bennett auto course, the Financial Times says: “World’s leading economies agree on global minimum corporate tax rate: Companies to pay at least 15% • Rules to start in 2023 • Ireland and Hungary among holdouts.”

The English designated the course of the Gordon-Bennett to be run over Irish roads, careening around Irish curves, on roads cut between Irish pastures, racing past Irish schools in Irish cities. James Joyce records, “…through this channel of poverty and inaction the Continent sped its wealth and industry. Now and again the clumps of people raised the cheer of the gratefully oppressed. Their sympathy, however, was for the blue cars” (63). Joyce noted that, for this day, Dublin wore “the mask of a capital,” but it was not even a partner in the Union; Dublin and Ireland were conquests. On that day, Dublin was assigned to bear the inconvenience of hosting and boasting for England’s claim to modernity.

England did not take the prize for that race, “successful Gallicism” taking team honors and a Belgian mercenary serving the Kaiser the individual laurel. Bound by a history of broken promises to the French, Irish Jimmy Doyle was “almost hilarious” at the victory (64). His Hungarian companion “Villona, a brilliant pianist…  unfortunately, very poor” (66), having “a sharp desire for his dinner” was likely to encourage the high spirits of his French patrons too (70). [Torciana notes ironically that during the half-hearted invasion of Ireland by a French advance force in 1798, Irish forces mistook Hungarians under British pay for French and were cut down without option of surrender (82). Hungry people sometimes perform ignoble acts. The Doyle prosperity is also the result of butchery performed in the service of the United Kingdom.]

Before the breakdown of the system of empires (Victorian, Hapsburg, Ottoman, German, French) after the first great pan-European war of the 20th Century, the empires most treasured nearby valuable colonies. For the English, this was Ireland; for the Austrian Hapsburgs, it was Hungary. The latter, reluctantly, had created the “two crowns” system that afforded Hungary a degree of autonomy. This became the model for the Irish as Arthur Griffith’s plan for Ireland to become a Crown Dominion. When The Great War threatened, the Royal bargain was if the Irish would fight the war against the Axis, freedom would be forthcoming. The same promise was made to India. Neither promise was honored.

Empires disappeared—the losing empires in a flash—the winners at snail’s pace. New global empires replaced the old. These are economic in nature (weren’t they always?). One of these is in Europe. Under empires and other unions, the Irish and Hungarians still had to maneuver against more prosperous, populous nations practicing Metternick’s “realpolitik” to their disadvantage. They developed practices, local laws, and policies that balanced their national well-being against the power of their new partners. This is the source of today’s headline. More powerful countries still wrest an advantage over less powerful ones.

[In the coming days, the analysis of “After the Race”will be completed. Publishing this piece today is done for the sake of the opportunistic headline. The analysis is essentially unchanged by the news. The story “After the Race” is about geopolitics and colonialism.]

The Races of Castlebar also refer to the French/Irish initial victory then crushing defeat by the British after the unspirited invasion by the French in 1798. After the disastrous defeat, French prisoners were treated cordially, feted, then sent off to the accompaniment of military bands. Irish prisoners were hung on the spot. (Torchiana 80-81). The 1903 replay of the Year of the French witnessed blue cars “scudding in towards Dublin, running evenly like pellets in the groove of the Naas Road” (Joyce 63). Jackson and McGinley note that Naas courses from Kilmainham Gaol to Richmond Barracks. They continue, “Being hanged was known as doing the Kilmainham minuet.” The mutual chivalry of English and French militaries in 1798 is paralleled in Joyce’s story by Ségouin’s gentle treatment of his English school chum Routh, while Doyle will be “hung out to dry.” Ségouin’s motives may not be pure. His name originates in the word sagouin that may translate to “morally dirty” (35).

Hormonal surges prod reckless youth to swell the ranks of armies and the crops of military cemeteries. The same euphoria leads them to tempt the limits of “Rapid motion through space” and to risk everything in untested business ventures. Joyce reflects enthusiasm for speed and financial recklessness with the booming rendition of “Cadet Roussel in chorus, stamping their feet at every: ‘Ho! Ho! Hohé, vraiment!’” (Joyce 72).

Young Doyle joins the prosperous troop with the help of his father’s money. This fortune was gained by trading nationalist principles for a police contract to provide butchered Irish meat. The Doyle wealth relies on the conquering Royals. There is a “…the metro-colonial… border zone both joining and dividing an imperialist and an irredentist culture,” says Valenti. He points to Joyce’s use of the terms “doublingers” and “dyoublongers” for conflicting goals of nationalism and economic success (329). There can be no independence without wealth, but there can be no wealth without complicity with the Crown. The character of the older Doyle modeled William Field. Arthur Griffith’s United Irishman called Field “a flunky of the Crown.” He was a Member of Parliament, and president of the Irish Cattle Traders and Stock Owners Association, a suspicious position for a butcher to hold (Jackson and McGinley 35-41).

Jimmy Doyle was educated on the profits of his father’s ethical compromise. “(I)n spite of temporary errors (he) was at heart the inheritor of solid instincts” (67). However, under the influence of his former mates from Cambridge, he shows the shakiest judgment over “bad courses” academic, personal, financial, and automotive. He has learned none of the necessary skills for any of his undertakings. Despite his pricey Catholic education, Protestant bachelors are leveraged by the facing structures of the Bank of Ireland and the Church of Ireland’s Trinity College, welcoming Irish Protestants but virtually excluding Irish Catholics from the island’s economy. Cunning Gogarty, for example, managed to attend Protestant and Unionist Dublin University, circumventing a religious ban against Catholics.

Joyce calls the style of the young men “fast and loose.” Jackson and McGinley remind us this is also the name of a game of deception ( 37). Torchiana suggests a conspiracy afoot between Ségouin and Routh to cheat Doyle and Farley, but no convincing evidence is provided (83).

The room “drank the health of the Queen of Hearts and of the Queen of Diamonds” (Joyce 74). Bowen says the Queens of Hearts and Diamonds are symbols of sacrifice and wealth (Bowen 59). He fails to note that Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James VI/James I, was known as the Queen of Hearts when the Stuarts played fast and loose with Irish blood and treasure in her family’s mismanaged cause (Jackson and McGinley 39).

“Ségouin shepherded his party into politics,” says Joyce ( 71). Tempers rise, hindering Jimmy’s rational thinking and wagering.

The room grew doubly hot and Ségouin’s task grew harder each moment: there was even danger of personal spite. The alert host at an opportunity lifted his glass to Humanity and, when the toast had been drunk, he threw open a window significantly. (Joyce 71)

The game continues with Jimmy further impeded. The deciding hand “lay between Routh and Ségouin.” The Englishman takes the pot. We are denied knowledge of any secret cash settlement between them after the cards are cleared. The Irish have been pawned again in a game of European Diplomacy.

Valenti tells us that Joyce wrote “After the Race” as a colonialist rather than as a Modernist (375). Ellmann referred to “After the Race’ as an Irish story distinguished from Yeats’ Celtic gaming in “Red Hanrahan.” He called Yeats “melancholy and warm,” Joyce “meticulous” (164). Zack Bowen commented that “Jimmy, (as) Ireland, as in the days of (Wolfe) Tone, having been an unimportant but involved bystander in the struggle, understands that ‘he would lose, of course.'” In European politics and economics, the game is run by the house, the house is a property of the prosperous and populous nations- France, Germany, and England. Other nations, rivals or allies, should guard their hands. To do otherwise is to suffer, in the words of Tindall, “(r)omantic illusion, disenchantment, and frustrated escape” (23).

Little has changed.

Works Cited

Bowen, Zack. “After the Race,” James Joyce’s Dubliners: Critical Essays, edited by Clive Hart, Viking Press, 1969, pp. 53–61

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

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Enhanced Media, 2016, Retrieved June 19, 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. 35-41.

Joyce, Stanislaus. My Brother’s Keeper: James Joyce’s Early Years, edited by Richard Ellmann, Da Capo Press, 1958, pp. 199, 225. 

Tindall, William York. “Dubliners.” A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1959, p. 23. 

Torchiana, Donald T.” ‘After the Race’: Our Friends the French, the Races of Castlebar, and Dun Laoghaire,” Backgrounds for Joyce’s Dubliners, Allen & Unwin, 1986, pp. 77-90.

Valente, J. (1998, October). “Complicity: Metro-Colonial Tactics in Joyce’s Dubliners.” JSTOR. https://JSTOR.org. 



A Review of Nick Sweeney’s A Blue Coast Mystery

Before the surrealists began to melt away, Greek-born Italian metaphysicist painter Georgio de Chirico juxtaposed mannequins and aqueducts, the imaginary beside the concrete, liquid by solid on canvas. One of his paintings, probably stolen, adorns Nick Sweeney’s A Blue Coast Mystery. It ties the suite together, as startling and quirky as Sweeney’s tale and the characters who act it out.

Who can say if de Chirico believed in Heaven or Hell, but it is likely that Blue Coast’s rendering of Purgatorio would suit his sense of a metafisica landscape for an afterlife? The residents play out endless identical days in flats above foul garages, in art deco ruins, in dive hotels, or apartments won at gaming tables under suspicious circumstances. Once-stylish clothing metamorphizes from silk to nylon, nylon to poly. They fray, articles and residents. Cheesecloth and denim clothing shreds at stress points “for Heaven’s sake.” The bones of stories are told and retold across a tedium of eternity. Appetites vanish under addiction, lethargy, and neglect. There are only two colors in Purgatory. The fading yellow of hope and the sepia stain of nightmarish memory where a countess and heroin heiress suffers compulsions for cleanliness, compulsions that can never be satisfied.

In the tug-o-souls there is a polite dance of spider-swastikas and rescue bee patrols.

Nick Sweeney brings his least compromised and the most culpable creatures to the Côte d’Azur, saving them from the whips of Ottomans, White Cossacks, and Reds. They flee Armenian genocide or pogroms. They all assume relentless certainty is preferable to death. Then Sweeney pieces them into a disjointed but elegant and human mosaic: A war profiteer, a Greek making Turkish coffee in “a doll’s house cauldron,” a waterfront fig-packer, who counsels, “Your heart’s got to be in murder, more than in any other act.” There were musical pushers of “The Rolling Stones,” chauffers, an Inspectorate of Municipal Buildings, a hairstylist who leaves tendrils on the floor proving that the heroine survives. On the way to intermediate suffering, he adds ” one of those bearded British matelots from the Senior Service cigarette pack.” The hero and heroine are plucked for embezzlement, card sharping, and tango instruction.

While you might find A Blue Coast Mystery reminiscent of Kafka, here the author allows his principals’ escape from his nightmare. There are several avenues to climb down from de Chirico’s canvas. They can barter jewelry, links cut in the junkyard fence, or duck behind a passing bus to whisk the sufferer away to Paradiso. That bus might also block the view as a sinner secrets into the 1940 Dry Cleaners for spiritual cleansing.

You may also think my praise is too rich. Let me temper it. I am disappointed by the novel’s second word. Skip that and read the rest of this tale of existential wending. You have an eternity of time. You will find few better ways to spend a few hours.

“Oxen of the Sun Roundtable” (on Translations)

The first difficulty of translation for the viewer of this presentation was to wring an understanding from either of the labels “Oxen of the Sun Roundtable” or The Science(s) of Birthing: Language/Gestation in ‘Oxen of the Sun’ (roundtable). The attempt to entertain neither amuses nor informs. This confusion occurred throughout Omniscientific Joyce. It would benefit viewers if the agenda and the Zoom link matrix used a single meaningful label.  The fact that arcane cryptic imprecise labels were preferred promised the confusion which was to follow.

The panel consisted of four contributors. Three had created translations of the episode. The translations examined were Polish (Wawrzycka), Hungarian (Mihálycsa), and Turkish (Ekici). Fritz Senn, esteemed as he may be, seemed to be in conflict with Chairperson Wawrzycka about the introduction and content of the proceedings. The intervention was disruptive.

Senn, however,  made one significant contribution to the discussion by pointing out that in writing Oxen, Joyce engaged in translations of his own in creating text that engaged the evolution of the English language before any of the other translations were attempted. This may suggest there is already a degree of separation between Joyce’s meaning and the English text. Senn also interjected that “translation is opportunistic.” This suggests an intention by the translator that is different than the meaning of the words or alternately that elegance in the translation could be more important than the meaning of the original. He also lathed across the introduction a sentiment that he expressed in an unattributed quote: “Translation theory is as important to translation as ornithology is to birds.” That is derisively clever but not useful to the listener, the reader, or the audience of the presentation. As advice to a translator, it is in fact “for the birds.”

But here, let’s examine one attempt to upend all the multifaceted Joycean prose, tumble it from the table and see if it reassembles itself on the floor in a new configuration but with identical, intelligent meaning.

Here is just one result of the discussion:

“Stark ruth of man his errand that him lone led till that house.” (Joyce)

What realigns on the floor is…

“Ruth for fellow man was HIS ERRAND (or HIS MISSION) that led him alone to his house.”


THE VERY PITY (or LONE PITY or PITY ALONE) for fellowship was his errand.

Ruth in Joyce suggests an antithesis of ruthless. Its literal meaning is “pity.” But also, in the Old Testament, Ruth extends the bond of family beyond the link of genetics, culture, or religion saying to her former mother-in-law after Ruth is widowed: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” This is the kinship that Bloom extends to Mrs. Purefoy (and to all humanity).

“Lone” in Joyce suggests that only sympathy led him to the maternity ward. “Alone” might suggest that Bloom was lonely and sought comfort for himself as suggested by the second translation.

This is only one of several comparisons of translations 

“Watchers tway there walk, white sisters in WARD SLEEPLESS. Smarts they still, SICKNESS SOOTHING.”

 Is translated…




Is it the hall, the nurses, patients or visitors who do not sleep?

A translated work is proven here to be something other than a rendering of the original text. A new interpretation with omissions amendations and “improvements.” Perhaps as Senn suggests, it is opportunistic rather than faithful; forJoyce abridged rather than replete. 

(D) about “The Sisters” July 1, The Feast of Christ’s Holy Blood

Florence Welzel diagnosed Father Flynn’s symptoms as Parkinson’s disease and not the result of stroke (J&McG 4). Years later, she returned with medical reinforcement in the person of Dr. Weisbren to claim the priest was suffering from syphilis, but something was still missing from the analysis. A gnomon left the explanation incomplete. Restoring the gnomon can complete the explanation, a gnomon linking the paralysis in Grey to the Euclid and perhaps even to the Catechism.

Critics Torchiana and Carrington agreed with Weisbren and Welzel that paresis, or General Paralysis of the Insane resulting from a European epidemic of syphilis, was a likely cause of the priest’s collapse, but, elsewhere, support for the theory was lukewarm. Jackson and McGinley called the claim “unprovably suggested.” Weisbren reported that Walzl had difficulty attracting support from “literary colleagues.” Some like J.B. Lyons even expressed disbelief that a priest could have syphilis. However, more than three decades after Walzl’s first speculation, another physician brought a new dimension to the debate. Michael Timins of the Medical College of Wisconsin solidified the argument for General Paralysis of the Insane by proposing the case for Tertiary (or inherited) Syphilis and supporting the discussion with medical evidence related to the priest and the story’s titular sisters (442).

Other proposals for the story’s symbolism and conflict persist. Some claim that the essence of the plot is homosexuality or sexual predation. For Dubliners of that vintage, “sisters” was a derogatory term for homosexuals (Jackson and McGinley 11). Marvin Magalaner explores the role of  Flynn as God the Father, Church, or pope (Torchiana 18-19 and Carrington 19). Others fix on paralysis as the gnomon that shapes the plot of the story and the theme of the collection.

If these propositions are accepted, the gnomon shrinks, but the corner has not been “boxed.” Secrets remain, guarded behind “beady black eyes” most conspicuously those of Old Cotter, wise in the ways of “faints (or feints) and worms.” Cotter balked at plain speaking and hinted at the priest’s complicity in undisclosed sins against the Holy Ghost. Cotter’s familiar, Uncle Jack, introduced the Rosicrucian heresy. Tindall tells us the boy and the sisters withheld some secrets and made half-disclosures about others (16). The sisters concealed the priest’s strangeness behind his scrupulosity. The boy was vague in confessing how he comforted his “soul receding into some pleasant and vicious region.” Similarly, Father Flynn hid the telltale-black stains of his snuff in the passion-red of his handkerchief (Jackson and McGinley 3-4).

Not the least of the secrets was a priest’s syphilis. After Timins’ analysis, we can accept that the Flynns all suffered an inherited and, in the days before penicillin, an incurable infection. This might deflect the objections of modern critics, even those like Lyons who would not accept a priest with a sexual disease. It would not dismiss the accusations of Flynn’s lay contemporaries or clerical superiors. With modern scientific understanding, the illness becomes a manifestation of original sin. It expands the understanding of the story’s title, the sisters’ significance and allows the reader to appreciate the symptomatic evidence. Nannie suffered spinal compression (tabes dorsalis), Tullio’s “phenomenon barotrauma” (a splaying of the heels through asymmetric osseous) causing a wearing down of heels from the outside-in. While Nannie’s deafness was nearly total, originating in the vestibular-cochlear nerve, Eliza is hypersensitive to sound, requiring a coach with “rheumatic wheels.” The elder sister also suffers from habitual exhaustion. Their brother exhibits tremors, halting speech, and progressive dementia. This catalog of symptoms can all be attributed to Tertiary Syphilis.

Selected for education among the elite of the Irish priesthood, James Flynn had a great career promised him. Among the seminarians schooled at the Pontifical Irish College was saint and martyr Oliver Plunkett. One of the college’s rectors, Paul Cullen, was to become Ireland’s first Cardinal (https://www.irishcollege.org/college/history/). Dozens of archbishops, bishops and monsignors paraded through the gates of the Irish College, but James Flynn was not among them. He never fulfilled his great promise. He may have disqualified himself through some misdeed, or he may have lost esteem through the discovery of his genetic flaw. Years after, Father Flynn spoke fondly to his boy protege about the virtues of Napolean. There is no evidence that Flynn held any fondness for the Irish Seminary in Rome. Since Napolean seized the seminary’s property and shut down the school in 1798, one might deduce that the priest’s admiration for Napolean was boosted by ill feelings harbored against the college.

Burgess wrote that in the story, “There were no great sins, nor any performance of great good” (38). Torchiana focused on “inconclusive dialogue and (the) seemingly inconclusive anticlimactic ending” (18). Burgess and Torchiana agreed in the belief that the truth is hidden. Even the vague naming of the sisters’ shop was concealment. The Drapery sells not drapes but bootees and umbrellas. There is the secret of hereditary syphilis.

copyright (c) don ward 2021

Another secret rationalized a disappointed vocation behind excuses of excessive scrupulosity. Finally, there is the secret Burgess called “an idle chalice,” an empty chalice, broken before it ever fell.

Circumspect Uncle John introduces the Rosicrucians to the speculation. Founded by Christian Rosenkreuz, the sect is a mystical pseudo-oriental order with secret passageways for shared membership with the Freemasons (Torchiana 25). Followers refer to Rosencranz as Magus (like the Magi) and Father. There is something sinister behind these titles. When the boy tries to displace the image of the dead priest’s “heavy grey face” with happy Christmas memories, he cannot summon happier, holier thoughts. Torchiana also observes that the name Fynn comes from the Irish root meaning red or ruddy and continues saying, “the priest’s very name may point to a Father Rosycross.” In his dream, the protege finds an oriental setting with “long velvet curtains (Drapery) and a swinging lamp.” He associates the setting with Persia, home to the original simoniac, Simon Magnus (Jackson and McGinley 5).

Linking Father Flynn’s ministry with Simon Magnus, Freemasons, and Rosicrucians marks a path from transubstantiation to alchemy. Alchemy changes base metals to gold; transubstantiation changes bread and wine into Christ’s flesh and blood. Flynn’s rejection by the Pontifical College may have transformed his gold to lead and led the priest away from his vocation and toward mysticism. He goes to his mad end with his tongue extended as if to receive an imaginary consecrated host, with his Holy Office fallen at his feet, laughing insanely and hidden again, this time in the confessional.

Kevin Sullivan believed that Joyce gave serious consideration to joining the Jesuits (Carrington 21). It is impossible to know if Joyce’s attraction to the order was based in Faith or if he was attracted to the symbols, the trappings, and the educational eliteness of the order. Joyce also had a weakness for the allure of mysticism. Torchiana called this “the turn to mysticism, (and) retention of ritual without Faith.” For Joyce, mysticism appears again in Ulysses in the discussion of Madam Blavatsky, Molly’s turning of the Tarot, and the Metempsychic coupling of Bloom and Dedalus into a single soul. 

The boy is menaced by the dream enacting the priest’s confession to his protege. In metempsychosis, this role would be shared, not reversed. Furthermore, the juvenile relief on the priest’s death might be the same relief Stephen felt when he finally refused the rector’s offer to share his mission, another artistic metempsychosis.


Works Cited

Burgess, Anthony. ReJoyce. Second ed., W.W.    Norton & Company, New York. 1965, pp. 38–39. 

Carrington, John William. “James Joyce’s Dubliners: Critical Essays.” James Joyce’s Dubliners: Critical Essays, edited by Clive Hart, Viking Press, 1969, pp. 13–25. 

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

” Pontificio Collegio Irlandese, History.” Pontificio Collegio Irlandese History Comments, 12 June 2021, http://www.irishcollege.org/college/history. 

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Enhanced Media, 2016, Retrieved April 28- June 1. 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, pp. 60-61. 

Timins, Michael. “The Sisters: Their Disease,'” James Joyce Quarterly Vol. 49, No. 3/4, Spring-Summer 2012, pp. 441-454.

Tindall, William York. “Dubliners.” A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1959, pp. 13-17. 

Torchiana, Donald T.” ‘The Sisters’: The Three Fates and the Opening of  Dubliners,” Backgrounds for Joyce’s Dubliners, Allen & Unwin, 1986, pp. 18-35.