This week in the War, 13–19 January 1941: James Joyce

James Joyce [Public domain]

James Joyce [Public domain]

James Joyce memorial plaque, Paris [Attr: author: Monceau, creative commons]

James Joyce memorial plaque, Paris [Attr: author: Monceau, creative commons]

I have never read Ulysses, James Joyce’s masterpiece, so chock full of dialect and scattered lightly, here and there, with Irish Gaelic.

A friend of mine has read it, and someone else I know pointed recently to the podcasts of Irish writer, Frank Delaney, who has divided the great work into bite-sized chunks, which he reads and interprets every Wednesday, Re: Joyce (rejoice?).

But I have been to Shakespeare and Company, a Parisian bookshop of the old-fashioned kind, that stocks one of everything (in English), not just bestsellers, and the staff are knowledgeable about their wares.

Shakespeare and Company [Attr: author: celebrategreatness, creative commons]

Shakespeare and Company [Attr: author: celebrategreatness, creative commons]

Joyce went there, too, but it wasn’t where it is today. In Joyce’s day, S and C stood a few streets away at rue de l’Odéon and was as famous amongst ex-patriot English speakers as were its proprietors: Sylvia Beach—’Miss Beach’, as Joyce always called her—and her friend and lover, Adrienne Monnier. Joyce made Shakespeare and Company practically into his office and for the two women: it was essentially their home. Their apartment was above the shop. Hemingway loved the place and paid a small fee to borrow books, using the shop more as a lending library. Gertrude Stein and her companion, Alice B. Toklas, were regulars. Likewise the poet W.H. Auden and the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Much of this transpired before the Second World War, and much of it during, with the Nazis occupying Stein’s beloved Paris. She and Alice remained throughout the Occupation, as did Shakespeare and Company’s stalwart proprietors, Miss Beach and Adrienne.

James Joyce wrote Ulysses whilst living in Paris, at 71 rue Cardinal Lemoine. He died, this week in the war, on 13 January 1941.

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