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  • A Second Emendation to the Joycean Canon:L'Air Majestueux: Joyce and the New Emperor of the Sahara
  • Terence Matthews (bio)

blimp, blump; . . . hatched at Cellbridge but ejoculated abrood

FW 129.07-10

This note summarizes new findings from additional inquiries into works dubiously attributed to Joyce. The first "Emendation" demonstrated that "Politics and Cattle Disease" (CW 238-41) was misattributed to Joyce and was merely an unsigned leader (editorial) in the 10 September 1912 Freeman's Journal written by its then editor William Brayden, a historical figure, well known to Joyce and subsequently used as a character in Ulysses.1 That investigation yielded further clues regarding other works attributed by Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellmann to Joyce in the Critical Writings and, in particular, the discovery of the source material for "Empire Building" (CW 113-15). Joyce's 1903 four-page "Empire Building" manuscript was not printed until 1959 when it was included in the Critical Writings.2 Though the manuscript is in Joyce's hand, research into his sources reveals, from the extent of copying, that it is not an entirely authentic part of Joyce's canon.

"Empire Building" was cobbled together by Joyce in November and December of 1903 from French news stories when he was soliciting money to launch his own newspaper called The Goblin in which he would copy the "Continental" style.3 As it turned out, he copied the particular Continental style of one newspaper, the Parisian Le Figaro. Joyce's opening phrase "Empire-building," used without the hyphen by Mason and Ellmann as a makeshift title in the Critical Writings, is Joyce's translation of "plan impérialiste," as Jacques Lebaudy's African scheme was called in the 6 September 1903 issue of Le Figaro. Joyce's entire "Empire Building" text is similarly composed from paraphrases and translations of articles published in Le Figaro from 2 August through 14 November of 1903.4

Joyce saw his review of Borlase & Son published in the Daily Express on 19 November 1903, his last book review after the quarrel with its editor E. V. Longworth, which ended his only source of income (CW 139-40).5 It was also on this day, Thursday, 19 November 1903, that Skeffington recorded in his diary Joyce's newspaper scheme: "In bed till evening. Joyce; his plan for halfpenny daily!" Six days later, on 25 November, Skeffington noted: "Joyce here; discussion of 'Goblin'; plans for huge profits! Speaks to Byrne occasionally; possible difficulties [End Page 534] about adverts. A strange project, but fascinating."

During the rest of November, Joyce searched hopefully for capital and announced to Skeffington on 3 December that he planned to approach the American millionaire Thomas Hughes Kelly, apparently after Padraic Colum hesitantly told Joyce about his rich American friend and patron living in Celbridge, County Kildare. On Saturday, 5 December, Joyce told Skeffington that he had seen Kelly in Dublin, who was very favorable to the scheme and agreed to meet him on Monday. Skeffington recorded Joyce's prediction: "I think I'm coming into my kingdom."

It is unknown whether Joyce and Kelly met on Monday, but some further miscommunication caused Joyce to walk twenty-three kilometers round-trip, more or less, from his father's house in Cabra out to County Kildare to the "great house," as Colum called it, in Celbridge on Tuesday, 8 December, for a meeting to secure a promise of two thousand pounds.6 In the climax to this comedy of errors, a gatekeeper turned him away, leaving the irate Joyce to walk back empty-handed in the dark. Kelly, who had been idling in Dublin on 8 December, wrote the following day to Joyce on his St. Stephen's Green Club stationery that he was not really interested in the scheme. Skeffington recorded on 16 December that the trip to Celbridge had been in vain and that Joyce was now "hunting for a Jew." Presumably, this comment refers to Colum's friends the Sinclair brothers. Joyce met one of them, who politely said no, and he also became a character in Ulysses (U 8.553). A week later, Skeffington was still making plans with Joyce, but by then they...


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