Envoy, a Review of Literature & Art

by panamericanas

Envoy, a Review of Literature & Art, vol. 5, no.17, April 1951.


It wouldn’t be fair to mention all those superb Joyce essays in my first post without discussing them, so I’ll do that now. Here’s a runthrough of each essay in the volume, the first page of which is reproduced in the above scan.

Editorial Note by Brian Nolan

The editorial note is titled A Bash in the Tunnel and was written by Brian [O’]Nolan, alter-ego of the pseudonymous Flann O’Brien who authored the novel At Swim-Two-Birds, but he suggests that a better title for the note might exist: Was Joyce Mad? by Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

The Bash starts by paralleling Joyce to Satan and Stephen Dedalus to Lucifer as a response to contemporary Irish Catholic thinkers who noted the resemblance. The whole thing runs from page 6 to 11 in the form of thirteen slightly disconnected fragments, each one separated from the next by three spaced and centred asterisks. Nolan asks the reader to consider questions about the position of the artist in Ireland in general terms but also focuses on specific elements of Joyce’s artistic practice. His personal anecdotes add a particular colour to the piece, and my copy came with a bit of marginalia that may, if accurate, shed light on one anecdote in particular:

A friend of mine found himself next door at dinner to a well-known savant who appears in Ulysses. (He shall be nameless, for he still lives). My friend, making dutiful conversation, made mention of Joyce. The savant said that Ireland was under a deep obligation to the author of Joyce’s Irish Names of Places. My friend lengthily explained that his reference had been to a different Joyce. The savant did not quite understand, but ultimately confessed that he had heard certain rumours about the other man. It seemed that he had written some dirty books, published in Paris.
“But you are a character in one of them,” my friend incautiously remarked.
The next two hours, to the neglect of wine and cigars, were occupied with a heated statement by the savant that he was by no means a character in fiction, that he was a man, furthermore he was alive and he had published books of his own.
“How can I be a character in your fiction,” he demanded, “if I am here talking to you?” 

A single word is written and underlined in the margin next to the statement that (He shall be nameless, for he still lives) and that word is Gogarty. It’s written twice actually, in blue ballpoint overtop pencil.

This is one of the most refreshing Joyce essays I’ve read and it is just what Nolan says it is, a small bit of the garden that is Joyce’s work.

Who Killed James Joyce? by Patrick Kavanagh

This piece is a poem of nine stanzas wherein Joyce is academically killed. Ulysses is slayed by a Harvard thesis, Finnegan killed by a Yale-man. Observe:

Did you get money
For your Joycean knowledge?
I got a scholarship
To Trinity College.

A Short View of the Progress of Joyceanity by Denis Johnston

Here we have more personal anecdotes a la Nolan’s Bash. Johnston recounts reading an essay in a periodical, interestingly jabbed toward him by Gogarty at a New York chophouse. The essay Johnston speaks of here was written by a Montréal attorney, one Mr. Klein, who combines poetry-writing with law. Apparently it’s an elaborate study of the Oxen of the Sun chapter in Ulysses. Gogarty is said to have been thrown into a tantrum by the piece, which inspired him to write a scalding article for the Saturday Review of Literature in which he, according to Johnston, calls Joyce a phoney and Ulysses a joke. Finnegans Wake is deemed a colossal hoax, with no other purpose than to pull the academic leg of the whole world. This View of the Progress of Joyceanity is on par with Nolan’s introductory remarks in providing a seemingly intimate portrait of early Joycean scholarship from within. I’m reading essays about the essays and you’re reading my essay about those already-secondary essays from 1951. Joyceanity seems mostly unchanged since then but by no means stagnant. It has always been electric.  

Childe Horrid’s Pilgrimace by Andrew Cass

This essay begins by making mention of the manner in which literature on Joyce’s life and work was growing at the time. Cass calls much of it worse than useless because it turns Joyce into a myth and is speculative and unfounded. Readers are also warned against the confusing of Joyce’s own personality as a youth in Dublin with that of Stephen Dedalus, a fictitious character albeit presented as “a portait of the artist.” The pretentious epic of Telemachus enabled Joyce to get off his chest a great deal of juvenile resentments and self-pity, Cass writes. His assessment of Joyce as a man and an artist shifts its focus from Joyce’s biographical details, English censorship, Odysseus, the structure of Ulysses, the philosophy of Giambattista Vico, and the themes of Finnegans Wake. Cass finishes his essay, structured into sections numbered to IV, with the declaration that It is indisputable that Shaun is Eamon de Valéra, and the following 2 1/3 pages are filled with quotes from Finnegans Wake to support that claim.

Joyeux Quicum Ulysse… Swissairis Dubellay Gadelice by Niall Montgomery

Montgomery brings up the same question of autobiography stressed by Cass a few pages prior. Again, Joyce’s philosophical masters are evoked, and a robust examination of Joyce’s literary interaction with those figures is presented. Exile, diaspora, language, genetics, sonority, etymology, the classic Joyce stuff is all here and it’s done in a style more pleasing than most others I’ve read. The whole thing is very well written and above all it’s entertaining. There’s even a bit of ancien français in there. Montgomery might shed more light on Finnegans Wake than anyone else you’ve read.

A Recollection of James Joyce by Joseph Hone

It was in 1908–the summer, I think–that I read Joyce’s Dubliners in manuscript, begins Hone. He goes on to describe the cheap notebooks inscribed with a copperplate hand that he was tasked with reading as a member of Maunsel & Co., a publishing firm. He provides an account of behind-the-scenes deliberation about whether or not to publish the stories, as well as his correspondence with Joyce and a brief encounter between the two in London. It’s a nice look at the ins and outs of normal goings-on between publishers and producers of literary works.

 Some Unpublished Letters of James Joyce

There are fifteen letters reproduced in this section. After the letters there is a note that reads (LETTERS PUBLISHED BY COURTESY OF JAMES JOYCE ESTATE). I’m aware that they’re a particularly litigious bunch so I’m not even going to touch this part. Anyways, these letters were unpublished as of 1951 so I’m sure you can find them elsewhere by now.

The Mysticism that Pleased Him, A Note on the Primary Source of Joyce’s Work by W. B. Stanford

It’s late and I need to sleep. I’ll update this entry later.

Diary by Patrick Kavanagh

A tight 3 pages on the author’s inability to form any particular opinion about Joyce.

Recollections of the Man

Obituaries from the Irish Times and the Irish Press, January 14, 1941.

There you have it. That stuff, along with some Dublin advertisements and a couple photo plates, comprise the book.

Also in my previous post I said I’d start talking about South America. I won’t give it all away at once, but here’s a taste of it:

I bought this copy of La Naranja Mecánica at one of the many bookstalls in Buenos Aires. It’s actually the least Argentinian of all the Spanish-language books I picked up on my trip because it’s the only one published and printed out of Spain instead of Argentina. Minotauro in Barcelona first published it in ’76 and this copy is from 2002. I feel like it cost 14 pesos but I don’t really remember. Maybe it was the equivalent of 14 dollars, but that’d seem a little steep. Alex translates well into Spanish, especially when inflected with el lenguaje de Buenos Aires, oh hermanos míos. The best part of this book is undoubtedly the GLOSARIO NADSAT-ESPAÑOL, which presents a translated léxico that was adapted in collaboration with Burgess. Here are some choice selections:

besuñ  loco
biblio  biblioteca
Bogo  Dios
brato  hermano
cancrillo  cigarillo
coto  gato
dobo  bueno
drugo  amigo
quilucho  llave
siny  cine
snito  sueño
synthemesco  droga

The bookstall I found this at was across from the Rural, where Buenos Aires Fashion Week was happening. I sat one row back from the Luz Ballestero Spring/Summer 2014 runway and thought about what it would look like if she designed Adidas streetwear costume for a cinematic production of La naranja mecánica shot in Buenos Aires. Imagine that.

My Argentina had a decidedly Joycean kick.