Monday, September 6, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 13.2 (James Joyce)

Joyce, James
A Portrait of the Artist
as a Young Ma

Apologies for skipping a day. We adopted a dog over the weekend and have been in heavy parenting mode ever since. Who knew it was so much work? She's a Catahoula Leopard Dog with a brown coat, black spots, and ice-blue eyes. Her name is Zelda.

This is my undergraduate copy of the POTAAAYM, well-thumbed as you can see by the crease across the cover. Looks like there are a couple of puncture marks in the upper right hand corner, and there are some strange scribblings on the front page, written in my hand. I don't understand them at all:

how do bees get in the library

staring at the bee
afraid of the sting
kill the bee

solid outside
dark and delicate

If I had any idea what any of that meant, I'd surely tell you.

James Joyce was hugely important for me when I was younger, though it has been a long, long time since I read him. Must be the Irish Catholic thing. I think I read this book 3 or 4 times. One of my writer friends wrote a short story once in which I figured as a character. He called the character "Stephen," a la Stephen Dedalus. He didn't exactly mean it fondly. The character was brooding and melancholy and something of a downer.

That same friend was part of a writer's group I've written about before. We had something of a schism in the group between the Francophilic writers and the Anglophilic writers. I fell into the latter camp and was in the minority. Several of the other members had all been in a course together on the French Symbolists and decided that they were the end all and be all. Joyce might have been a good bridge between the two, but the other writers more or less dismissed him as Anglophone and therefore to be ignored.

Which reminds me of a derisive nickname a non-writer friend gave to all of us: The Bearded English Majors.

from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo

His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.

He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.

O, the wild rose blossoms
On the little green place.

He sang that song. That was his song.

O, the green wothe botheth.

When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.

His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor's hornpipe for him to dance. He danced:

Tralala lala,
Tralala tralaladdy,
Tralala lala.

Uncle Charles and Dante clapped.
Tralala lala.

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