We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Find using OpenURL

A Lead on a Dog?

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 46, Number 3-4, Spring-Summer 2009
pp. 579-581 | 10.1353/jjq.2008.0048

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

As Sam Slote's essay in this issue shows, Garryowen, the "red setter wolfdog" that worries Bloom in Barney Kiernan's public house (U 12.715), has both a mongrelized historical pedigree (as a nineteenth-century Irish setter, a suburb of Limerick, and an uproarious Nationalist song) and a hybrid function in "Cyclops" (as part of the episode's parodic commentary on racial and national identity). If Garryowen is indeed "plural," as Slote asserts, then it might be worth noting another possible instance of cross-breeding in his already confused intertextual genealogy. Given Joyce's preference for "stylistic burlesques in 'Cyclops,'" Slote observes, of which Owen Garry's canine variety act forms a part, it is possible that he had another performing animal in mind—an animal that also happens to be called Garryowen.

This other Garryowen, our mongrel poet's namesake, features briefly in an early chapter of Wilkie Collins's 1854 novel Hide-and-Seek, which tells the story of Mary (nicknamed "Madonna") and her mysterious origins. Readers first encounter Mary as "The Mysterious Foundling," a ten-year-old "Totally Deaf and Dumb" child performer in Jubber's Circus (80). Moved by her pathetic history (and not a little enthralled by her remarkable beauty), the genial artist Valentine Blyth, who happens to attend the circus while on a visit to friends in the country, endeavors to adopt Mary and save her from the hardships and abuses of circus life. In the process, Blyth, along with Collins's readers, finds out how the child came to the circus and how she lost her powers of hearing and speech. Instrumental in keeping Mary's dying mother from the workhouse, it transpires, as well as in securing her performing future, is the circus celebrity Peggy Burke, "the wildest devil of an Irish girl" and "the finest rider that ever stepped on a horse's back" (116). She desires to "appear before the Bangbury public on Garryowen's back, as six women at once" (118). As explained by Mrs. Peckover, Mary's circus guardian,

What she meant by this … was that she was to have six different dresses on, one over another; and was to go galloping round the ring on Garryowen (which was a horse), beginning, I think it was, as Empress of Roossia; and then throwing off the top dress without the horse stopping, and showing next as some famous Frenchwoman, in the dress underneath; and keeping on so with different nations, till she got down to the last dress, which was to be Britannia and the Union-Jack.


As portrayed here, Collins's solid-hoofed Garryowen—the living (though unspeaking) vehicle for an equally bizarre, burlesque performance of hybrid national identity—functions as an uncanny antecedent of Joyce's declaiming dog. We know that other examples of Collins's fiction feature, however incidentally, in Joyce's works—The Woman in White (U 10.368), The Moonstone (U 18.653), and Heart and Science (in his "The Study of Languages" essay)—and it may be that this equestrian exhibition from Hide-and-Seek forms part of the Joyce-Collins intertext as well. While perhaps not strengthening the case for Joyce's having borrowed Collins's dog's body, it is nonetheless satisfying to note that the episode in which Collins's Garryowen appears is narrated at the request of Blyth's country friend—the Revered Doctor Joyce.

One last thought on this topic seems worth mentioning. Joyce's Garryowen, as David Rando discusses in this issue, is part of Ulysses's engagement with the "conventions of animal representation," an example, even, of the possibilities of challenging the discursive divide between humans and animals. In Hide-and-Seek, though, Garryowen remains both silent, if long-suffering, and more or less one-dimensional: merely a locomotion device cum performance platform with an Irish name. Yet there is in Collins's novel a trace of the "sadness of animals," of the ineluctable muteness typically associated with their representation that Rando explores in relation to Ulysses. The association with childhood sadness or muteness, for example, which Rando discusses in relation to Rudy Bloom, has a kind of...

You must be logged in through an institution that subscribes to this journal or book to access the full text.


Shibboleth authentication is only available to registered institutions.

Project MUSE

For subscribing associations only.