Friday, June 17, 2011



For the day that's in it, the Irish Times reports that some spoilsport has gone and used a computer to crack Leopold Bloom's conundrum,“Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub”.

Speaking of spoilsports, Bloomsday celebrations have up to now been inhibited by copyright restrictions but that is all set to change, as from next year:
THE EXPIRY of the copyright on James Joyce’s Ulysses next year will liberate the text from the “notoriously restrictive” instincts of his grandson Stephen Joyce, the co-ordinator of the Bloomsday festival has said.
Stacey Herbert said those trying to organise celebrations of the book often found themselves without permission to do so by Joyce’s Paris-based grandson.
To date the only place where public readings of Ulysses are allowed are on Bloomsday in the James Joyce Centre in North Great George’s Street.
As organisations and individuals as diverse as the State, the Abbey Theatre and Cork University Press have found, the Joyce estate, whose main trustee is Stephen Joyce, is fiercely protective of the writer’s work.
Not everything Joyce ever wrote will be coming into the public domain. His letters, for example, may still be subject to copyright. One of these was in the news recently when it sold for a princely £33,600 at auction in Bonhams. The letter was written in 1919, when Joyce was living in Trieste. It was sent to Carlo Linati, who was, according to the lot description
a distinguished Italian writer and translator of Yeats, Synge and LadyGregory, [who] had been asked by Joyce if he would like to translate Portrait of the Artist. Linati instead suggested that Exiles would be more suitable for the Italian public. He afterwards translated 'Arady' from Dubliners and a fragment of Ulysses
Here is an excerpt from the letter (found here)
For which the following translation is offered on the Bonhams website:
“...For the publication of Dubliners I had to struggle for ten years. The whole first edition of 1,000 copies was burnt at Dublin by fraud [some say it was the doing of priests, some of enemies, others of the then Viceroy or his consort, Lady Aberdeen. Altogether it is a mystery]”

Joyce was proficient in Italian and a fine translator so one wonders what he would have made of the hapless translation of
bruciata a Dublino dolosamente
burnt at Dublin by fraud
Bonhams' slice of that £33,600 must have been pretty thin if that was the best translation they could afford.

Even Google Translate manages a passable
intentionally burned in Dublin
Can it be that stately, plump Bonhams (Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers: auctioneers of art, pictures, collectables and motor cars) cannot even afford Google Translate?

Bonhams, in Ireland, share a name with a kind of pig, so for them the Joycean connection goes back way beyond the recent auction: there is an actual mention in Ulysses, in the Circe episode:
He passes, struck by the stare of truculent Wellington but in the con vex mirror grin unstruck the bonham eyes and fatchuck cheekchops of Jollypoldy the rixdix doldy.

At Antonio Babaiotti's door Bloom halts, sweated under the bright arclamps. He disappears. In a moment he reappears and hurries on.)

BLOOM Fish and taters. N. g. Ah!

(He disappears into Olhousen's, the pork butcher's, under the downcoming rollshutter. A few moments later he emerges from under the shutter puffing Poldy, blowing Bloohoom. In each hand he holds a parcel, one containing a lukewarm pig's crubeen, the other a cold sheep's trotter sprinkled with wholepepper He gasps, standing upright. Then bending to one side he presses a parcel against his rib and groans.)

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