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G&S Typesetters PDF proof Joyce Studies Annual, Volume 14, Summer 2003© 2003 by the University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, Texas 78713-7819 1 Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Vatican: Polyglottus, 1940), 66. 2 James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist,” in The Workshop of Daedalus: James Joyce and the Raw Materials for “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” ed. Robert Scholes and Richard M. Kain (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1965), 63. 3 Jean-Michel Rabaté, Joyce Upon the Void: The Genesis of Doubt (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 10. The Heretical Auctoritas of Giordano Bruno: The Significance of the Brunonian Presence in James Joyce’s The Day of the Rabblement and Stephen Hero GARETH JOSEPH DOWNES Bruno, Giordano. Opera omnia. Decr. S. Offi. 8. Febr. 1600. Index Librorum Prohibitorum.1 Extravagance followed. The simple history of the Poverello was soon out of mind and he established himself in the maddest of companies. Joachim Abbas, Bruno the Nolan, Michael Sendivogius, all the hierarchs of initiation cast their spells upon him. James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist.”2 The textual moment in which, in the words of Jean-Michel Rabaté, Joyce first brought “Bruno’s covert authority to bear on a precise diagnosis of Irish paralysis”3 occurred in November 1901 with the publication of his pamphlet, The Day of the Rabblement. The circumstances surrounding the publication of The Day of the Rabblement and 04-T2928 3/3/04 11:02 AM Page 37 G&S Typesetters PDF proof 38 the heretical auctoritas of giordano bruno 4 James Joyce, Letters, Vol. II, ed. Richard Ellmann (London: Faber and Faber, 1966), 48. Hereafter all references will appear parenthetically within the text. 5 James Knowlson, Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (London: Bloomsbury, 1997), 100. 6 Joyce, James, The Critical Writings of James Joyce, ed. Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellmann (New York: Viking, 1964), 132. Hereafter all references will appear parenthetically within the text. the exact identity of the cryptic “Nolan” have long been known. However, the historical and literary contexts in which Joyce encountered Bruno are relatively unexplored, particularly with regard to the circumstances of the nineteenth-century scholarly rehabilitation of Bruno’s writings; his contemporary lionisation by the anticlericalists of the Italian Risorgimento; and the underground interest in Bruno that existed in English literary culture during the late 1880s and 1890s. This article discusses Joyce’s acerbic pamphlet as the first of the belligerent sorties that he wrote in his “open war”4 against the Roman Catholic Church, and the pervasive and paralysing influence of the bourgeois Catholic morality that it helped to maintain in the contemporary cultural and intellectual life of Dublin. It discusses Joyce’s reading of Bruno’s Italian dialogues and how this encounter steeled him in his own struggle with Catholic orthodoxy, and explores his covert employment of Bruno as an heretical auctoritas in The Day of the Rabblement and Stephen Hero. It argues that an historicist examination of Joyce’s dialogue with Bruno provides an extremely effective means of realizing some of the urgency and offensiveness of his critical engagement with contemporary Catholicism during the 1900s. In an interview with James Knowlson in September 1989, Samuel Beckett revealed that the only remark Joyce ever made about “Dante . . . Bruno. Vico.. Joyce,” was that, although he liked the essay (which was written at his own behest and instruction), he thought there “wasn’t enough about Bruno; he found Bruno rather neglected.”5 His comments are, to a large extent, justified; and even though the essay was first published in 1929, Joyce’s estimation of “Dante . . . Bruno. Vico.. Joyce” remains as a salutary and instructive comment on the treatment of Joyce’s complex relationship with the writings and legacy of the “heresiarch martyr of Nola”6 in Joycean criticism to date. Beckett’s discussion of Joyce’s encounter with Bruno and his appraisal of the significance of the doctrine of the coincidence of contraries in the Wake is relatively telegraphic, when 04-T2928 3/3/04 11:02 AM Page 38 G&S Typesetters PDF proof gareth joseph downes 39 7 Samuel Beckett, “Dante . . . Bruno. Vico.. Joyce,” Our Exagmination Round...


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