Joyce's Dublin

01/04/2022 09:30

Each June 16 a group of weird people start a walk through the streets of Dublin. It’s supposed they already have breakfast. It is assumed that pig kidney fried in butter with a pinch of black pepper. The tour begins in an Eccles Street doorway, north of the River Liffey. At the Georgian building door a plaque recalls that was home to the Bloom, where, in the final chapter develops Molly Bloom's soliloquy. Another plate indicates a medical consultation. Even a third plate reproduces the paragraph which mentions the place: At the housesteps of the 4th of the equidifferent uneven numbers, number 7 Eccles St., he inserted his hand mechanically into the back pocket of his trousers to obtain his latchkey... In short: they celebrate Bloomsday, the day in 1904, the action happens in the novel Ulysses by James Joyce.

They may continue on Dorset Street, near, at 35 North Great George's Street is home to the James Joyce Centre. Although the author never lived in this building he did Professor Denis Maginni known Dubliner character of the time, who ran a dance school here. He appears in the chapter on Wandering Rocks: silk hat, slate frockcoat with silk facings, white kerchief tie, tight lavender trousers, canary gloves and pointed patent boots. Further west, in Parnell Square North is the Writers Museum. Then, to descend towards the downtown the shortest way is the wide O'Connell Street. Throughout the entire boulevard stands a string of country nobleman’s statues, beginning with Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish Parliamentary Party founder. At the junction of North Earl Street and Henry settled in 2003 The Spire, a huge shiny needle 398 feet high that digs into the sky. A few steps at the same crossing are the bronze statue representing Joyce. Then follows Jim Larkin’s statue haranguing the masses, but the masses now passes by under his felt gesture without not even have a look upwards. Next junction is usually fought between Sir John Gray and William Smith O'Brien, who were nationalist members in the British Parliament. As Daniel O'Connell, who names the street, the bridge and has a statue at the last crossroad. A pigeon usually dwells on his head.

There’s time for a pause. Next to the well-known central Half Penny Bridge, is the Bachelor Inn, could not be called otherwise a pub on the corner between Bachelors Walk and Bachelors Way. A literary bar where to have a pint under a sentence of Wilde, Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Padraig Pearse or Joyce himself: A man's errors are his portals of discovery. There’s also live music or Horseracing bets. Almost opposite strange green seahorses watch the river from Capel Street Bridge, while the buildings next to St. Paul Church are reflected in its surface transmitting ochre, blue and red facades on its waters.

When evening comes shadows extend exaggeratedly on the road in Grafton street pavement, as if to make shorter the distance between Trinity College and St Stephen's Green. In one corner of this is a bust of the writer with the legend Crossing Stephens, that is, my green. Whoever has the willingness to travel a little further south to the neighbouring Sandycove, may visit the museum that has been enabled in Joyce memory at the seaside Marcello Torre, bayfront, now The Joyce Tower. In this tower begins the first chapter of Ulysses. The museum shows the room in which Buck Mulligan, Stephen Daedalus companion, shaved himself while awaiting the appearance of the third character: Haines. The museum exhibits include objects that once belonged to the writer as well as photographs, letters and rare editions of his works.

The Dubliners have the peculiar inclination to rename their statues with nicknames and humorous rhymes. Famous Molly Mallone, the street vendor of mussels and clams, near the Trinity has become the tart with the cart, the slut truck. Anne Livia Plurabelle, one of the main characters in Finnegan’s Wake, which once occupied a part of O'Connell Street, beside the river, was Floozie in the Jacuzzi or the whore in the sewer; the two bronze grandmothers sitting talking on a bench on Liffey Street have become the hags with the bags. Not even Joyce escapes becoming the prick with the stick.

But my favourite landscape related with Joyce literature is in the crypt of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, better known as Christchurch. There are preserved and exhibited the mummified bodies of a cat and a rat. It is assumed that the cat started the chase somewhere in the church to finish it forever, in the absence of oxygen, inside one of the organ pipes. It is estimated about a hundred and fifty years have gone when they were found in such a position that suggests persecution didn’t cease not even with pursuer and pursued asphyxiation. The Dubliner writer captured the scene of the crypt in his last work Finnegan’s Wake to use as a comparison: as stuck as that cat to this mouse in that tube of that christchurch organ.

Curiously Joyce’s literary attachment for his hometown flowed parallel to the vital rejection he experienced by it. Joyce left Dublin for Rome, Trieste, Paris and Zurich. While the plot of his texts was located unambiguously in the city of the Liffey. Exiles, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and even Finnegan’s Wake are absolutely linked to Dublin and soaked in its river waters.

Obviously, the city also recognizes other great islander writer. One Merrion Square corner hosts a bizarre Oscar Wilde coloured statue, he lived between 1855 and 1878, just across the street, on the corner building. Also in Merrion Square still stands Georges Bernard Shaw. Patrick Kavanagh sits at the waters of the Grand Canal. And Jonathan Swift lies under a polychrome slab inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.

© J.L.Nicolas

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