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  • Letters
  • Ronan Crowley


Much as I welcome Dirk Schultze's detective work on James Huneker in JJQ 48.2 (Winter 2011), 347-50, he has been cursory in his consideration of Painted Veils as the source of "rib risible" (U 7.448). Huneker's Steeplejack enjoys some intriguing overlap with Ulysses, but Joyce had more reason to consult the critic's roman à clef in 1921 than his autobiography. As Schultze notes, Huneker sent the manuscript of Painted Veils, then called "Istar," to John Quinn in early 1920. Following the suppression of James Branch Cabell's Jurgen, Quinn counseled a subscription edition. This duly appeared in a handsome edition de luxe from Boni & Liveright, signed and numbered. All this Joyce knew. After the Little Review seizure and with negotiations with B. W. Huebsch on the rocks, Quinn twice offered to make overtures to Boni & Liveright for an American Ulysses, citing each time the terms of Huneker's contract. On 19 December 1920, he told Joyce that "Huneker's book in spots is quite as frank as yours."1

Indeed, in spots, Joyce's book is simply Huneker's again. Taking wing from Schultze's discovery, Cleo Hanaway, Patrick Lockley, and I performed some data-processing on Ulysses and Painted Veils to discover their textual commonalities. Some surprisingly lengthy strings were returned: "hot and cold in the same breath," "the words out of my mouth," and "Et ne nos inducas in tentationem." The latter appeared in the text of the serialized "Hades" (U 6.618) in September 1918 and, hence, predates the composition of Painted Veils by almost a full year. The examples above are thus fluke intertextualities local to the novel form in the early twentieth century.

Far more convincing are two briefer correspondences, which will be familiar from their recurrence in "Circe." Huneker writes, "[S]he knew him as a celibate, a woman-hater, rather say, a despiser of the cloven sex" (56), and, later, "whether in wedlock or concubinage—bedlock is the ultimate outcome" (203). In "Circe," these become Bloom's "[t]he cloven sex. Why they fear vermin, creeping things" (U 15.2445) and Dr. Mulligan's "[b]orn out of bedlock hereditary epilepsy is present" (U 15.1777). Unsavory to say the least, neither coinage is documented in English-language corpora prior to 1922. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary gives "bedlock" as a nonce word with a citation to Ulysses. Both derive from Joyce's reading in Huneker, however, and the archive bears out this computer-mediated sourcing. Notebook antecedents for each are copied into the purple late notebook, National Library of Ireland MS 36,639/5A, and both appear on a page headed "Circe" four pages after "[o] my rib risible." The red-crossed [End Page 573] "cloven sex" is recorded immediately beside a green-crossed "born in bedlock."2 What does this matter, the substitution of one now unread book by another? First, it removes any ambiguity about the dating of NLI 5A (for these notes at least). As Schultze shows, Huneker was having his funny-bone tickled, whether as a "rib risible" or a "risible rib," as early as 1913. Unless we are to flout probability entirely, the borrowing did not make it into the notebook before Joyce encountered the phrase in Painted Veils, alongside the two elements bound for "Circe." More interestingly, the discovery of the source evidences Joyce reading other texts in 1921 that were in danger of falling foul of the United States obscenity laws. The first edition of Ulysses would be smuggled into America with dummy dust jackets; before then Joyce smuggled into his text snippets of misogynistic prose that had successfully made it past the censors.

Ronan Crowley
University at Buffalo, State University of New York


1. See Myron Schwartzman, "'Quinnigan's Quake!' John Quinn's Letters to James Joyce, 1916-1920," Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, 81 (1978), 258.

2. <> (accessed 1 September 2012). [End Page 574]



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