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:
Upon looking at the corrected typescript of the 1929 translation (Berg Collection, New York Public Library), I however noticed that this passage had been heavily revised by Auguste Morel, especially concerning the translation of “St. Joseph’s sovereign”, which he started by keeping in the original, but followed by a question mark indicating to his collaborators that he was in need of some clarification. This non-translation was then crossed-out and replaced by “remède Saint Joseph contre”, which was also crossed out and later corrected as “la Jouvence de l’Abbé”.
The majority of Morel’s corrections on the Berg typescript were the result of his collaborative work with Stuart Gilbert, so I had a look at Gilbert’s “Notes sent during the translation of Ulysses” (Harry Ransom Center). For this passage, Gilbert interestingly has “St Joseph’s….. (I cannot explain this)”, which seems to imply that he did have to turn to Joyce for clarification.
Serenella Zanotti has shown that Gilbert’s “Glossary [of] Ulysses” (Harry Ransom Center) must have been the document in which Gilbert wrote down the answers provided by Joyce to his questions regarding the translation. In this case, the Glossary mentions “St Joseph’s sovereign remedy (for ailments of women)” and further down the page “et pourtant, L’Abbé Jouvence. Though I cannot ascertain whether Joyce suggested the translation himself, the writer must have been the one who provided the explanation leading to the corrections observed on the Berg Collection typescript.
On Gilbert’s prompt, Morel therefore chose to translate “St Joseph’s sovereign” into “la Jouvence de l’Abbé”, using a cultural equivalent for a “remedy (for ailments of women).” I think they referenced “La Jouvence de l’Abbé Soury,” which is a medicine invented circa 1745, and which was widely advertised for in newspapers from 1900 onwards as a “méthode curative sans poisons de toutes les maladies intérieures de la femme — retour d’âge”. Translating that way conveniently maintained the religious reference present in the original text, although the direct mention of St. Joseph was lost in translation.