You find my words dark? 

U 16.1451-5: Marble could give the original, shoulders, back, all the symmetry, all the rest. Yes, puritanisme, it does though Saint Joseph’s sovereign thievery alors (Bandez!) Figne toi trop. Whereas no photo could because it simply wasn’t art in a word. 

In the Eumaeus episode Bloom shows Stephen a photograph of his wife “in the full bloom of womanhood”:

He dwelt, being a bit of an artist in his spare time, on the female form in general developmentally because, as it so happened, no later than that afternoon, he had seen those Grecian statues, perfectly developed as works of art in the National Museum. Marble could give the original, shoulders, back, all the symmetry, all the rest. (16.1449-55)

He concludes his musings: “Whereas no photo could because it simply wasn’t art in a word.”

  The reader has no problem following Bloom’s words. “Photography is no/not art” was almost a platitude at the turn of the century. He or she may also speculate that the proud husband secretly hopes to have aroused Stephen’s curiosity. But, unfortunately, there is an intrusion in the text of Eumaeus as we know it that almost obliterates the obvious logical coherence between: “Marble could give the original, shoulders, back, all the symmetry, all the rest.” and: “Whereas no photo could because it simply wasn’t art in a word.”

  In the context this intrusion is virtually a foreign body, an incomprehensible jumble of words, almost half of them French and tricky to decipher into the bargain: 

  It is no surprise to discover that the typist, confronted with this intrusion, was unable to cope with it and sought his salvation in omitting everything after the word “sovereign”. Not that it is clear what effects of “puritanisme” are confirmed with the initial “Yes”, or what the adversative” though” tells us about “Saint Joseph’s sovereign thievery”, provided Ellmann’s inspired guess here is right.

  We might have naively suspected that Joyce saw the absurd slip-up and deleted or amended it in the typescript or the various proofs of the episode he corrected, but no. The 1922 edition reads:

All the rest, yes, Puritanism. It does though, St. Joseph's sovereign … whereas no photo could, because it simply wasn't art, in a word.


So we are faced with several questions:

1) If the intrusion was intentional, why did he not restore the full text?

2) Why did he more or less accept the typist’s gap?

3) Whose cryptic words are interrupting Bloom’s musings and for what purpose?

  The answer to the first two questions may depend on the fact that Joyce received the typescripts of Circe and Eumaeus on 3 April 1921, but, as his letter to Miss Weaver of that day shows, he was primarily worried about a gap in the Circe typescript. He seems to have packed off the fair copies of both episodes shortly after, as the American collector John Quinn received them on 21 April. So Joyce was no longer in possession of the typist’s copy text when he could have made changes to the intrusion later. Lack of context, the French argot words, and the handwriting strongly suggest that its writer may not have been fully conscious of what his pen put to paper here, but that manuscript testimony was now in New York.

  Had this intrusion been a conscious attempt to interrupt the bland flow of a narrative “with Leopold Bloom in possession of the pen” (Hugh Kenner’s memorable description) with a cryptic outburst by Stephen Dedalus, as some scholars believe, Joyce would certainly have done all he could to transmit it in full.

  The first translator to tackle the monstrous task of recreating Ulysses in another language, Georg Goyert, corresponded with Joyce during his work around 1926 and after, but there is no evidence that the passage in question was discussed. Goyert basically stuck to the 1922 text.

  There is clear evidence, however, that the French translation, published in 1929, was fully aware that there was something amiss here.


The Joyce scholar Flavie Epié of the Université de Lille kindly researched the genesis of the passage in the French translation of 1929 for this note and made remarkable discoveries, which are quoted here in her own words:

Had Gilbert not made use of his master’s voice here, “la Jouvence de l’Abbé” would have been an exceptionably high-handed choice. Joyce, already deep in Work in Progress, does not seem to have realised, however, that his French readers would not have been any wiser as regards the connection between Bloom’s thoughts and a remedy of the ailments of women.

  Oddly enough Joyce put “Eve’s sovereign remedy” into the preceding Circe episode at 15.2723. Was he actually aiming at Saint Joseph’s sovereign remedy when he scribbled that confusing jumble? Even if he did, the contextual relevance of it to Bloom’s thoughts on the superiority of sculpture over a photograph would still have his readers look thoroughly baffled into a glass darkly.

  Or might Joyce, faced with this textual dilemma, have spontaneously decided to include a “Homer sometimes nods” moment into Ulysses as a slightly well-worn allusion to Horace’s Ars Poetica? Some straw to clutch at.

Harald Beck

Sovereign remedy: with thanks to Ronan Crowley for this reference

Image: Le Journal de Rouen (1910)