James Joyce

The last page of Ulysses

Photo of Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold, 1955

Photo of Marilyn Monroe, 1955, Long Island, New York by Eve Arnold. Copyright Ev
Photo of Marilyn Monroe, 1955, Long Island, New York by Eve Arnold. Copyright Eve Arnold / Magnum Photos.

Photographer Eve Arnold had a long and productive life: she died in London in January 2012, aged 99. I was honored to meet her  a few years before she passed on. She took hundreds of photos of Marilyn Monroe, and is responsible for a remarkable 1955 color photo of Marilyn Monroe reading the last chapter of «Ulysses» by James Joyce in a Long Island playground. There is a gentle irony in MM’s choice of the last chapter.

In «Joyce and Popular Culture», R.B. Kershner quotes a letter from Arnold about the day she took the shot:

Borges’ translation of Ulysses

Or of the last page of Ulysses as a translation of Ulysses

ocean-blue

In post 7, I quoted Sergio Waisman from Borges and Translation: The Irreverence of the Periphery: “Like any act of writing, translation is always undertaken from a specific site: the translator’s language, but also the entire cultural and sociohistorical context in which translators perform their task.” In the in-traduisible, we translate the intra-duisible. Induce the text through the veil of the nuisible.

Which makes it almost impossible to answer the question of who the translator serves. The reader-cannibal-flesh/word-eater? Or the mercenary-writer who uses the translator (sometimes from beyond the grave) to pull a hat over her or his own face? Translating, one wishes to serve the text itself, but the conditions of reception in one’s own language make the process like shuffling a deck of cards with your arms behind a curtain.

The translation that results bears the memory of the original, and also incorporates into its fibre the resistance of the reader to let the foreign into their language, the resistance that is a cauterization of any reading practice from its very start: because we live somewhere. Somewhere translates itself into the translation. The prescription of untranslatability may haunt the translator, but as I translate, no, I am not haunted, I turn and wear the text, making its fibre into my fibre.

Joyce the inverted nationalist

James T. Farrell and James Joyce
James T. Farrell (left) and James Joyce

In 1944 the New York Times commissioned then widely read novelist James T. Farrell--an "ethnic proletarian" novelist who came of age in the radical context of the Depression, author of Studs Lonigan etc.--to make a commentary on James Joyce. Farrell wrote about his main topic: being Irish in the Irish diaspora. Below is the first paragraph of the essay Farrell wrote for the December 31, 1944 Times and here is a link to the whole piece.

This race and this country and this life produced me," declares Stephen Dedalus--artistic image of James Joyce himself--in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." "A Portrait" is the story of how Stephen was produced, how he rejected that which produced him, how he discovered that his destiny was to become a lonely one of artistic creation. It is well to look into the life out of which Stephen came, to discuss the social and national background of this novel. In Ireland a major premise of any discussion of her culture and of her literature is an understanding of Irish nationalism. And it is at least arguable that Joyce was a kind of inverted nationalist--that the nationalism which he rejects runs through him like a central thread.

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