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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 Guglielmo Marconi (1874 –1937), who had installed the radio station (the first one to transmit wireless messages from Europe to America) just five years before, was a real celebrity at that time, having received a Nobel prize in 1909. It is a nice coincidence that the Public Gardens in Trieste, where there is a bust of Joyce today, are bordered by a street bearing the name “Via Guglielmo Marconi.” 2 I am speaking from experience. I have undertaken quite a few cycling trips through all parts of Ireland since 1978, but the longest distance I ever managed to cycle in one day was James Joyce as a Cyclist FRIEDHELM RATHJEN In the “Ithaca” episode of Ulysses, “cycling on level macadamised causeways” is subsumed under “lighter recreations” (U 17.1592–3), but cycling is not only a recreation, it is a facility of transit, too. “What facilities of transit were desirable?” (U 17.1573) The answer is twofold: “When citybound frequent connection by train [. . .] . When countrybound velocipeds, a chainless freewheel roadster cycle with side basketcar attached” (U 17.1574 –6). In the summer of 1912, James Joyce journeyed “countrybound”: from Galway, the home-town of his companion Nora Barnacle, he made two trips into rural Connemara, the first one (on Sunday, 4 August ) to Oughterard, 17 miles from Galway, in order to see the graveyard playing a prominent role in “The Dead,” and the second one (on Monday, 5 August) to Clifden, no less than 49 miles from Galway, in order to visit the transatlantic wireless station in the bog of Derrygimlagh and conduct an interview with its founder, the famous Italian Guglielmo Marconi.1 What “facilities of transit” could have been “desirable” for Joyce for these two trips? For the first one, the 34 miles’ journey to Oughterard and back on a sunny Sunday, a “velocipede ” seems to be quite adequate, but can anyone who is familiar with Joyce’s bodily shape imagine the thirty year old writer do the second trip on a bicycle, too? This would have meant a return journey of nearly one hundred miles all in all, quite a feat for non-practised riders even on good tarmac,2 and in 1912 the road from Galway 08-T2928 3/3/04 11:03 AM Page 175 G&S Typesetters PDF proof 176 james joyce as a cyclist a strenuous ride of ninety miles into Derry on the last day of zigzagging the Irish border in early October 1999—the next day I was suffering from a severe tenouitis. See Friedhelm Rathjen, “Die Grenzerfahrung: Von Dundalk nach Derry an der ‘Border’ entlang,” irland journal 10.6 (November 1999): 24 –39; Friedhelm Rathjen, “What Border?: A Cycling Exploration,” Inside Ireland 96 (Spring 2002): 22–23. 3 See Friedhelm Rathjen, Samuel Beckett & seine Fahrräder: Ein treffliches leichtes Gerät mit Holzfelgen und roten Reifen (Darmstadt: Verlag Jürgen Häusser, 1996); for an abbreviated and simplified English version, see Friedhelm Rathjen, “The Joys of Cycling with Beckett,” Ireland of the Welcomes 47.5 (September – October 1998): 16 –21. 4 Herbert Gorman, James Joyce (New York: Rinehart & Company, 1948), 210. Of course Gorman is wrong in what he says about the two articles Joyce wrote for the Piccolo della Sera: only one of these is about the Aran Islands (“The Miracle of the Fisherman of Aran”), the other one deals with Galway (“The City of the Tribes”). to Clifden did not everywhere really resemble a “level macadamised causeway” but rather consisted mainly of potholes and gravel. One hundred miles by bike: Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will manage to ride this distance in just four hours, but nonracing cyclists on holiday trips usually need twice as long, plus some extra time for pausing, eating, drinking, and sightseeing. James Joyce, who quite in contrast to his subsequent friend and disciple Samuel Beckett (who was a keen cyclist in his younger years3 ) never excelled as a sportsman, clearly cannot have cycled from Galway to Clifden and back on that August day in 1912. Why, then...


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