Perverted from the truth
U 12.1635: He's a perverted jew, says Martin.
Comments in secondary literature like the following clearly indicate
that critics rather settle for an inexplicable breach of character in Martin
Cunningham than question their understanding of the “shocking” adjective
The OED allows for a reading that is much more in character with the Cunningham readers are familiar with from “Grace” and elsewhere in Ulysses:
The following quotations make it quite clear that this meaning of the verb was indeed used and understood at the time:
This does not mean, of course, that Cunningham’s phrase could not have the meaning postulated by the critics above, but as the example below clearly illustrates it would hardly have passed the lips of our charitable Christian and prudent Castle clerk:
As these quotations from Exiles and Portrait show, Joyce was well aware of
the relevant meaning of this word:1
It is out of the question that
Stephen Dedalus uses “pervert” in the OED’s
sense 2 for the noun, as it would not only mean that Stephen offends Cranly in
the crudest way imaginable, but also loses the contrast to “convert”:
Just as in "Grace"
Martin Cunningham is the master of half-truths in Cyclops, as an attentive reader
can discover in the Ithaca episode (17.1635-9). It was Bloom's father who "had been
converted from the Israelitic faith and communion in 1865 by the society for
promoting Christianity among the jews", not Bloom, who became a Roman
Catholic "with a view to his matrimony in 1888" (17.1640). So Bloom
was a perverted Protestant, if anything.
1 This was first pointed out by Julian B. Kaye in his note "Joyce's Use of the Word 'Pervert'", James Joyce Quarterly Vol. 12, 3 (Spring 1975), pp. 309-10. Kaye hints in passing at the relevance of this meaning of "pervert" for "perverted jew".
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