Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Two Songs Sung by Joyce


Gisele Freund's 1938 photo of Joyce at the piano
For this year's Bloomsday, Derek Pyle and Krzysztof Bartnicki have put together a huge bibliography of music inspired by Joyce over at Waywords and Meansigns. They've discovered that 'Joyce’s ghost is found in nearly every genre of music, from experimental noise and Korean rap to the pillars of classical. Perhaps James Joyce music is actually its own genre, complete with subgenres: Finnegans Wake music; Ulysses music; Dubliners music; Pomes Penyeach music; dirty letters music; and so on.'

One of the songs in their list is Joyce's song 'Molly Bloomagain', a parody of 'Molly Brannigan', which I've never heard anybody sing, though it would be ideal for Bloomsday.

This got me thinking about Joyce's own singing. I think he did talk about making a record, of Irish songs, but sadly it never happened. I would love to have heard him sing 'Molly Bloomagain' and his other party piece, a mysterious and haunting Irish ballad called 'The Brown and Yellow Ale'.

'Often in the evening, or rather about two o'clock in the morning, whenever he felt in the mood, he sat at the piano and started to shed his treasury of Irish melodies. We remained suspended on the doleful and nostalgic cadences; we could have spent all night listening to the nightingale.'


Louis Gillet, 'Farewell to Joyce', Portraits of the Artist in Exile p.168


'To hear Joyce sing with his beautiful tenor was an enchanting experience. It meant access to the sound of his innermost being....the human voice, when elevated into song, seemed to him the highest and purest manifestation of music.'

Carola Giedion-Welcker, 'Meetings with Joyce', Portraits of the Artist in Exile p.274

Herbert Gorman describes Joyce singing these songs in his biography:
 
There were evenings when he sang to his guests old Irish songs, 'The Brown and Yellow Ale', for instance, and the new parody of Molly Brannigan which he had written in honour of his own Molly Bloom.

Man dear, did you never hear of buxom Molly Bloom at all,
As plump an Irish beauty, Sir, as Annie Levi-Blumenthal .
If she sat in the vice-regal box Tim Healy’d have no room at all,
But curl up in a corner at a glance from her eye.
The tale of her ups and downs would aisy fill a handybook
That would cover this wide world of ours from Gib across to Sandy Hook.
But now that tale is told, ahone, I’ve lost my daring dandy look
Since Molly Bloom has gone and left me here for to die.


Man dear, I remember when my roving time was troubling me
We picknicked fine in storm or shine in France and Spain and Hungary
And she swore I’d be her first and last while the wine I poured went bubbling free
Now every male you meet with has a finger in her pie.
Man dear, I remember with all the heart and brain of me
I arrayed her for the bridal but, O, she proved the bane of me.
With more puppies sniffing round her than the wooers of Penelope
She’s left me on her doorstep like a dog for to die.


My left eye is wake and its neighbour full of water, man.
I cannot see the lass I limned for Ireland’s gamest daughter man.
When I hear her lovers tumbling in their thousands for to court her, man,
If I was sure I'd not be seen I’d sit down and cry.
May you live, may you love like this gaily spinning earth of ours,
And every morn a gallous sun awake you to fresh wealth of gold
But if I cling like a child to the clouds that are your petticoats
O Molly, handsome Molly, sure you won’t let me die?


James Joyce A Definitive Biography, 1941, p 279

Molly no longer belonged to Joyce, who could no longer even see her clearly, but to the readers of UlyssesThis was written in 1925 as Joyce's sad farewell to Molly and to Ulysses, and titled 'Post Ulixem Scriptum'. 

Gorman has a footnote explaining the origin of the song in a dream.

 
La Duse was the great Italian stage actress, Eleanora Duse, who Joyce saw acting in two D'Annunzio plays in London in 1900.  Stanislaus Joyce tells us that his brother kept a photograph of her on his desk and 'addressed some adulatory verses to her, of which I did not think much.' (MBK 189).
La Duse

Padraic Colum remembered hearing Joyce singing the same two songs in 1931 in his apartment in Square Robiac:

'After dinner we all went back to the Joyces' apartment, where there was much jollity....James Joyce sang. Joyce said to me: 'John McCormack's voice and mine are so similar in texture...that more than once when a disc of McCormack's has been on, the girl in the kitchen has thought it was me.'
   Joyce was persuaded to do ''Mollie Bloomagain'', his famous parody of a humorous Irish ballad, which he rendered with gusto, and with the phrasing and intonations an old ballad singer would have given it. And then he sang a tragic and colourful country song I had never come across in any collection, nor heard anyone else sing. it is about a man who has given his wife to a stranger – he may be from Fairyland, he may be death himself:

'I was going down the road one fine day,
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale!
And I met with a man who was no right man.
Oh love of my heart!
And he said to me, 'Will you lend me your love
For a year and a day, for a year and a day?
Oh the brown and the yellow ale,
The brown and the yellow ale.' 

Those refrains in Joyce's voice had more loss in them than I have ever heard in any other singer's.'

Padraic and Mary Colum, Our Friend James Joyce, p184-5

According to James Stephens, Joyce learned 'The Brown and Yellow Ale', from his father.  He hoped that his son Giorgio would also sing it, and sent him the lyrics in a letter:

As I was going down the road one fine day,
(Oh the brown and the yellow ale!)
I met with a man that was no right man
(Oh love of my heart)

He asked was the woman with me my daughter
(Oh the brown etc)
And I said that she was my married wife
(Oh love etc)

He asked would I lend her for an hour and a day
And I said I would do anything that was fair.
 

So let you take the upper road and I'll take the lower
And we'll meet again at the ford of the river.

I was walking that way one hour and three quarters
When she came to me without shame.
 

When I heard her news I lay down and I died
And they sent two men to the wood for timber.

A board of alder and a board of holly
And two great yards of sack all about me.
 

And but that my own little mother was a woman
I could tell you another pretty story about women.


To Giorgio Joyce, 24 December 1934, Letters Volume III, p336

So in Joyce's dream and this song, the rejected man is presented with a coffin! 

Ellmann's footnote to Joyce's letter says 'Joyce's version leaves out some of the connections. A fuller version in Irish has been found by Roger McHugh; its refrain line is 'Cuach mo lionndubh bui', 'O my flagon of yellow porter.' This version was translated by Lady Gregory in the Celtic Christmas, the supplement to the Irish Homestead published at Christmas 1901.'

Four days after sending the lyrics, Joyce wrote again to Giorgio, explaining his interpretation of the words. The footnote is by Stuart Gilbert.
 
To Giorgio and Helen Joyce, 28 December 1934, Letters Volume 1 p355
Stephens later wrote his own rhyming translation of the lyrics, published by Dominic Behan in Ireland Sings.




You can hear Dominic Behan's own version on youtube. But the best recording is this one by Luke Kelly of the Dubliners.



Here's John McCormack's beautiful version of Molly Brannigan.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A Walking Tour of Joyce's Paris 2: Seventh Arrondissement and Champs Elysées


'a skyerscape of most eyeful hoyth entowerly' (Finnegans Wake 4.36)
'The Seventh Arrondissment, with its broad avenues and ornate, balconied houses, had always been one of Joyce's favourite sections of Paris. When he stepped out of his house he could see the Eiffel Tower rising like a fountain against the luminous sky; nearby the Seine, whose name he had transformed in his private language of a poet to the Anna Sequana, flowed quietly, endlessly, beneath time-worn bridges.'

Gisèle Freund and V.B. Carleton, James Joyce in Paris: His FInal Years, 1965, p11

We begin our second Paris walk in the wealthy Seventh Arrondissement, home to the French nobility since the 17th century. It has the biggest concentration of embassies, ministries and official residences in the city. At its centre is the massive Champs de Mars, with the Eiffel Tower at the north end. 

AVENUE CHARLES FLOQUET

 

Running along the west side of the park, we find Avenue Charles Floquet, which has two James Joyce addresses.

Charles Floquet (1828-1896), radical French statesman

We walk north up the avenue until we reach number 26, where James Joyce lived from November 1922 to August 1923.


This one really should have a plaque. While he was staying here, on 11 March 1923, Joyce wrote a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver.

Yesterday I wrote two pages – the first I have written since the final Yes of Ulysses. Having found a pen, with some difficulty I copied them out in a large handwriting on a double sheet of foolscap so that I could read them. Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio, the Italians say. The wolf may lose his skin but not his vice or the leopard cannot change his spots.
 
Letters I p 202  

Yes this building is the birthplace of Finnegans Wake!


What Joyce wrote was a comic sketch about King Roderick O'Conor, the last High King of Ireland, reinvented as a Dublin publican collapsing in his pub after drinking all the dregs - the first of many Wake falls. Read my post about it here.

Walking north up the avenue, we find a second Joyce address, at number 8. He moved here from the Victoria Palace Hotel in November 1924, staying here until June 1925.

Joyce was hard at work fusing books one and three of the Wake together here. He told August Suter, ‘I feel like an engineer boring through a mountain from two sides. If my calculations are correct we shall meet in the middle. If not ...’ (quoted by Frank Budgen in 'Further Recollections of James Joyce')

'I think I have solved one – the first – of the problems presented by my book. In other words one of the partitions between two of the tunnellling parties seems to have given way.' 

To Harriet Shaw Weaver, 9 November 1924, Selected Letters 304

'The gangs are now hammering on all sides. It is a bewildering business. I want to do as much as I can before the execution.* Complications to right of me, complications to left of me, complex on the page before me, perplex in the pen beside my, duplex in the meandering eys of me, stuplex on the face that reads me. And from time to time I lie back and listen to my hair growing white.'  To HSW 16 November 1924, Letters 222

* Joyce had another eye operation, for cataract, in late November.

THE CHAMPS DE MARS


Now we walk west across the Champs de Mars, where Joyce must have walked many times.


Lisa and I found a nice Italian cafe in the park, where we stopped for a drink. There's a very old hand-cranked carousel behind. Children play 'catch the ring' here, a game once played by Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Riding the horses, they try to catch little rings placed on a rack.

 

TO SQUARE ROBIAC


On the west side of the park, we find the Rue de Grenelle, a street with many aristocratic mansions, which heads east.  

Rue de Grenelle

Paris is a very watery city. We saw water flowing out of drains and along the metro lines.

Walking up the street, we reach Square Robiac on our left.  This corner building, at number 2 Square Robiac (192 Rue de Grenelle) was the nearest thing that the Joyces ever had to a lasting home. They lived here, on the third floor, for almost six years, from June 1925 to April 1931.


'Joyce had been a migratory bird about the various quarters of Paris since his arrival in 1920 and it was not unti 1925 that he finally lighted in a comparatively permanent nest of his own...2 Square Robiac, a cul-de-sac off 192 Rue de Grenelle, in one of the oldest and pleasantest quarters of Paris....He was in the middle of history. During his walks he constantly passed great gates to cobbled courtyards where crumbling armorial bearings in dark stone spoke mutely of more spacious days....Dotting the long slowly twisting Rue de Grenelle were typical little French shops, cobblers, zinc-bistros, caves, cheap restauarants, merceries and épiceries as well as imposing government buyildings flying the tricolouer and foreign embassies. Joyce loved this quarter of Paris.'

Herbert Gorman, James Joyce, 1941, p 355.

The flat was unfurnished, which gave James and Nora Joyce their first opportunity to reveal their taste in interior decoration.  Thanks to Harriet Shaw Weaver's generosity, they could splash out.

'They had the walls repapered, the floors carpeted, and six windows and three doors draped in brocade....'The house so far is all right,' wrote Joyce the householder to Miss Weaver, 'but it seems to have cost a lot of money'....The total reached a hundred and twenty-five thousand francs – equivalent to a year of Joyce's interest income. Miss Weaver may or may not have been consoled to learn that the Joyces had decorated three of the rooms in 'her' colours, blue and yellow.
  Their friends all crowded in for a look and privately found it dreadful.'

Brenda Maddox, Nora, p.303

Elliot Paul, the transition editor, wrote that 'One would say that the rooms were occupied by a dentist of Detroit Michigan.' ('Farthest North: A Study of James Joyce', Bookman 75, 1932, p.159)




'The Joyce apartment, at least the living room in which we sat, upset me. Nothing looked right. In the whole world there wasn't a more original writer than Joyce, the exotic in the English language. In the work he had on hand he was exploring the language of the dream world. In this room where he led his life I must have expected to see some of the marks of his wild imagination. Yet the place was conservatively respectable....The room was all in a conventional middle-class pattern with, if I remember, a brown patterned wallpaper, a mantel, and a painting of Joyce's father hanging above the mantel.'  

Morley Callagahan, That Summer in Paris


'The only picture that I had ever seen in his flat, apart from his family portraits...was a reproduction of Vermeer's view of Delft. It hung over his mantelpiece, and he considered it a very fine work of art. I think one of the reasons, if not the reason, why he admired it so much was that it is the portrait of a city....
   In general he was not interested in modern art....(When) I asked him his opinion of the latest Picasso, or Braque...he would stare blankly at them, his face registering no interest or emotion, and would ask, after a time:
– How much are they worth?'

Arthur Power, Conversations with James Joyce, 1974

Joyce would also have loved the canal
Nora Joyce, in a 1927 letter from the Hague to Giorgio, describes Joyce's discovery of the painting:

'yesterday we went to look at paintings at a small yet beautiful museum by a pond that they call the mauritshuis there is a very big painting there of an old man with a cow by a tree in a meadow very lovely but your father thought another painting the most beautiful and that is the view of Delft your father says it is the most beautiful painting in the world because you can stare at it for hours and still see new things Lucia thinks it is boring and she cares more for another painting by Johan Vermeer and that is a lovely girl with a pearl we will send you a postcard of it she looks a bit like Lucia'

TRANSITION


We now walk east along Rue de Grenelle until we reach Rue Fabert,  where we turn left. At number 40, we find the office of transition, the avant-garde journal founded by Eugene Jolas.


Eugene Jolas is best known for his manifesto for 'The Revolution of the Word':

TIRED OF THE SPECTACLE OF SHORT STORIES, NOVELS, POEMS AND PLAYS STILL UNDER THE HEGEMONY OF THE BANAL WORD, MONOTONOUS SYNTAX, STATIC PSYCHOLOGY, DESCRIPTIVE NATURALISM, AND DESIROUS OF CRYSTALLIZING A VIEWPOINT. . .
WE HEREBY DECREE THAT:
1. THE REVOLUTION IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS AN ACCOMPLISHED FACT....
11. THE WRITER EXPRESSES. HE DOES NOT COMMUNICATE.
12. THE PLAIN READER BE DAMNED.

From 1927, transition published 13 extracts from Work in Progress, but Joyce refused to sign the manifesto. He believed that he was writing for the plain reader!

Here's a portrait of Joyce by Cesar Abin which Jolas commissioned for transition in 1932, for his 50th birthday.

Have a look here at Stella Steyn's lovely Wake illustrations from transition.

 

ON THE TRAIL OF PAUL LÉON


We retrace our steps back to Rue de Grenelle, where we carry on walking east until the street meets the Rue de Bourgogne on the left. On the corner here, there's the little Café Resto au Coin de La Rue.


In the late 1930s, this was Madame Lepeyre's bistrot, where Joyce regularly met his assistant Paul Léon for aperitifs. Joyce came here in December 1938 and read the closing words of the Wake, which he'd just written, to Léon:

'The first version, which was only about two a half pages long, was written in one afternoon, in December 1938. It was a veritable deliverance. Joyce brought it with him when we met that evening for his usual half-past eight rendez-vous in Madame Lapeyre's pleasant bistrot, on the corner of the Rue de Grenelle and the Rue de Bourgogne...'

'In Memory of Joyce', Poésie No V (1942), reprinted in James Joyce Volume 2: The Critical Heritage, (ed Robert Deming)

The final words form the begining of the sentence completed on the book's opening page, a sentence which took Joyce twelve years to write!

They came here because Léon lived nearby, at number 27 Rue Casimir-Périer, which is where we head next.
There's plaque on the wall but it's not to Joyce or Léon but to the writer Sophie Rostopchine, Countess of Ségur.

After the war, Lucie Léon–Noel turned the flat into a shrine to Joyce and her husband Paul, who was murdered by the Nazis. It was photographed by Gisèle Freund for her book.


'It seems to me,' Lucie Léon-Noel said recently, 'that one way of keeping the memory of those we love alive in our hearts is to preserve the things – and the ambience – just as they were during those years which Joyce and my husband called the Sweetness of Life, when twice a day there would be those two familiar raps on the door and the little maid would announce, 'C'est Monsieur Joyce, Madame.''

Gisèle Freund and V.B. Carleton, James Joyce in Paris: His FInal Years, 1965, p102.


Joyce always sat in the chair on the left.


RUE EDMOND VALENTIN

We walk north, turning left into Rue Saint-Dominique and the right up Avenue Bosquet. On our left, we turn into Rue Edmond Valentin, which is dominated by a view of the Eiffel Tower.


Number 7 on the left here was the Joyce home from February 1935 to April 1939. This was one of their grandest addresses, and it was where Joyce finished writing Finnegans Wake. This is the building that Joyce would step out from and 'see the Eiffel Tower rising like a fountain against the luminous sky.'


'We started moving our things into the new empty flat I have taken yesterday, 5 rooms, lift, private telephone, chauffage, 4th floor, clear outlook as right opposite is a hotel particulier of 2 storeys. Little or no traffic in the street which has only 12 houses and is not a suite of any other street. Only one flat on each landing and this cornerless and quite bright.'

To George and Helen Joyce, 13 July 1934, Letters III 309


Though Joyce found it bright, Nino Frank was struck by the apartment's gloom:

'The apartment on the Rue Edmond-Valentin...was of the same substantial and anonymous sort as the one on Square Robiac, less cramped however, and including in particular a vast drawing room, where Mrs Joyce's portrait occupied the place of honour....The children were no longer around – Giorgio was married, Lucia in the hands of psychiatrists – and the parents found themselves alone in an apartment that had become immense and silent.
  I detected something new in this apartment: the absence of sunshine, or abundant light. Does my memory deceive me? It seems to me that I always saw it plunged in semiobscurity or invaded by ever-darkening air.'

Nino Frank, 'The Shadow that had Lost Its Man', 1967, in Portraits of the Artist in Exile p91

Some of the most famous photographs of Joyce were taken here, in 1938-9, by Gisèle Freund. To mark the publication of the Wake, she took this colour one for Time.



 Here he is leaving the building with Eugene Jolas.



Gisèle Freund has a more positive description of the apartment:

'Joyce, basically a family man, had established a real home in the rue Edmond-Valentin, a place with meaning and memories. Here were his personal books and pictures, comfortable chairs that invited long hours of conversation, for Joyce was a most considerate host; against the living room wall stood a rented piano that satisfied his passion for music; on it were flowers and family photographs.'

James Joyce in Paris: His FInal Years, 1965, p11




THE PONT DE L'ALMA


It's a five minute walk from here north to the Seine, and Joyce's favourite bridge, the Pont de l'Alma

'How often Joyce and I watched the Seine from the Pont de l'Alma' 
 Paul Léon (quoted by Freund p17)


The Seine was a big inspiration to Joyce in writing the Anna Livia episode, which he described as 'an attempt to subordinate words to the rhythm of water.' According to C.P.Curran, 'Joyce felt some misgivings about it the night it was finished, and went down to the Seine to listen by one of the bridges to the waters. He came back content.' (Ellmann p.564)

We tried to listen to the Seine, but we could only hear the heavy traffic rolling over the bridge.


 

CHEZ FRANCIS


Across the bridge, at 7 Place de l'Alma, we find Chez Francis, another of Joyce's favourite restaurants.

'Joyce hated to go to any restaurant other than those few which he habitually frequented, and nothing would induce him to go to the well-known bohemian cafés of Montparnasse. When he did not go to the Trianons he sometimes dined en famille at the Café Francis...which faces the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, and after a visit to the theatre he would call in there before returning home.'

Arthur Power, Conversations with James Joyce, p 47



I was thrilled to find it still in business, though there's no plaque to James Joyce!


RUE DE BASSANO


We head north up the Avenue Marceau and then south west down Rue de Bassano, searching for the Hotel Belmont which stood at numbers 28-30.


The hotel is gone and this modern building stands on its site. Joyce lived here briefly, from April to May 1932. He had been planning to return to London, where the Joyces lived for several months in 1931 (and where he finally married Nora). But Lucia had a breakdown at the Gare du Nord, screaming that she hated London and wouldn't go.

'Lucia had a crise de nerfs at the Gare du Nord so I had to take the trunks off the train, abandon our journey to London and definitely give up our Kensington flat. So here we are in a hotel again, after 12 years in Paris!'

To Valery Larbaud, 13 May 1932, Letters III p245

RUE GALILÉE


From Rue de Bassano we walk north along Rue Kepler until we reach Rue Galilée.  Turning right we walk to number 42, another Joyce address.


Joyce lived here from late November 1932 to 19 July 1934.


Harold Nicolson, the British author and diplomat, visited Joyce here in February 1934, leaving a vivid account in a letter to Vita Sackville-West:

Joyce by Lipnitsky mid 1930s
'I walked to James Joyce’s flat in the Rue Galilée. It is a little furnished flat as stuffy and prim as a hotel bedroom. The door was opened by the son. A strange accent he had, half-German, half-Italian — an accent of Trieste. We sat down on little hard chairs and I tried to make polite conversation to the son. Then Joyce glided in. It was evident that he had just been shaving. He was very spruce and nervous and chatty. Great rings upon little twitching fingers. Huge concave spectacles which flicked reflections of the lights as he moved his head like a bird, turning it with that definite insistence to the speaker as blind people do who turn to the sound of a voice. Joyce was wearing large bedroom slippers in check, but except for that, one had the strange impression that he had put on his best suit. He was very courteous, as shy people are. His beautiful voice trilled on slowly like Anna Livia Plurabelle. He has the most lovely voice I know — liquid and soft with undercurrents of gurgle.
   He told me how the ban had been removed from Ulysses ('Oolissays', as he calls it) in America. He had hopes of having it removed in London....He seemed rather helpless and ignorant about it all, and anxious to talk to me. One has the feeling that he is surrounded by a group of worshippers and that he has little contact with reality.  This impression of something unreal was increased by the atmosphere of the room,
Pope Pius XI blesses Ulysses by mistake
the mimosa with its ribbon, the birdlike twitching of Joyce, the glint of his glasses, and the feeling that they were both listening for something in the house.  
   He told me that a man had taken Oolissays to the Vatican and had hidden it in a prayer-book, and that it had been blessed by the Pope. He was half-amused by this and half-impressed. He saw that I would think it funny, and at the same time he did not think it wholly funny himself.
   My impression of the Rue Galilée was the impression of a very nervous and refined animal – a gazelle in a drawing room. His blindness increases that impression. I suppose he is a real person somewhere, but I feel I have never spent half-an-hour with anyone and been left with the impression of such brittle and vulnerable strangeness.'

Diaries and Letters, 1930–1939, ed. Nigel Nicolson (London and New York: Atheneum, 1966) pp. 164–5.

FOUQUET'S


We continue walking up Rue Galilée until we reach the Champs Elysées. Turning right we walk east along the avenue until we reach Fouquet's restaurant at number 99. This was Joyce's favourite restaurant in the 1930s. 



There's a red carpet outside, and the names of film stars written alongside. Fouquet's is famous for hosting the César and Molière Awards gala dinners - the French equivalent of the Oscars. The French associate Fouquet's with Nicolas Sarkozy's election celebration there, which set the tone for his 'bling-bling' presidency. Today it's full of rich tourists who shop at the huge Louis Vuitton flagship store over the road.

The restaurant's connection with the film industry goes back to Joyce's day.

'We were at dinner in a luxurious Champs-Elysées restaurant renowned for its bar, which movie moguls and near-moguls had made an annex to their head office. Joyce sat in his regular seat, turning his back to the public as was his custom, and ordering bisque, which he loved, and some Rhine wine.'

Nino Frank, 'The Shadow that had Lost Its Man', 1967 in Portraits of the Artist in Exile p91



Louis Gillet tells us that Joyce discovered Fouquet's while he was living nearby in Rue Galilée

'When he migrated later on to the Rue Galilée, he took his station at Fouquet's; he kept this new custom even after he came to lodge again on the left bank, at Champs de Mars. He always occupied the same table, and at the table, the same seat.'

Louis Gillet, 'The Living Joyce', 1941, in  Portraits of the Artist in Exile p182
 


Joyce's old Dublin friend Mary Colum describes a memorable evening in Fouquet's

'He went regularly now to Fouquet's, in the Champs Elysées, the haunt of celebrities of all kinds. He could not, with his poor vision, see many of the diners, but he liked to be told who they were.
   Once, while we were waiting for a table in this place, we sat on a bench next to a man in tweeds and a blonde, rather tired-looking woman, without makeup in a black suit. The woman looked so familiar I began to wonder where I had seen her before. Nora enlightened me: 'You have seen her in the cinema; she's Marlene Dietrich.'
  I turned to the woman impulsively and asked, 'Are you Madame Dietrich?' She answered, not unpleasantly, 'And who Madame are you?' I responded that I did a little writing. 'Oh then you will like to meet Monsieur Remarque,' she said, introducing the tweed-clad man with her. In return I introduced the man at my side: 'Monsieur James Joyce.'
  The effect was electrical. I had not imagined that such a writer would be of interest to a movie star, but Miss Dietrich and, more naturally, the novelist with her were excited at the encounter and were loath to leave when their table was announced.  The observant waiter gave us a table next to theirs, so the conversation was continued for a time. 'I saw you', Joyce said to the star, 'in L'Ange bleu'. 'Then monsieur,' Miss Dietrich replied, 'you saw the best of me.'
  Joyce was amused by it all. 'I thought the years when I was a literary lion were over,' he said, smiling, but with a kind of melancholy. He was at the last lap of Finnegans Wake, and, as usual, was mobilizing helpers.'

Mary and Padraic Colum, Our Friend James Joyce, 1958, p.229 
 
Dietrich in 1937, not long before she met Joyce

Sightings of Marlene Dietrich in Fouqet's seem to have been a regular event for the Joyces. Here's another old Dublin friend, C.P.Curran:

'One supper party in Fouquet's remains in my mind because we had Marlene Dietrich as our nearest neighbour.....Going there one evening from his flat, whether of malice aforethought or not, Joyce conveniently forgot a book he wished to give me and so – sending our wives ahead  Joyce with Eugene Jolas and myself went back to fetch it and, ignoring warnings given us, we interposed an interval en route for pernods. Warned I suppose by the earlier arrival of our wives, there was a great to-do when we made our entrance. Piccolo and commissionaire were strung out on the pavement. Piccolo signalled commisonaire, commissionaire passed the signal to the maitre d'hotel advancing from the doorstep. I almost saw a red carpet....The maitre d'hotel, preceded by the piccolo carrying my two-volume Lasteyrie...led us in procession to what I suppose was Joyce's accustomed place. 
   I found Nora pointing out celebrities to my wife as we arrived, both forgetful of reproaches in their anxiety not to miss Marlene's usual moment of arrival. But the manner of our entry was a challenge – hers was no more distinguished – and when she did arrive I kept my attention fixed on Joyce and our conversation and for the rest of the evening did not remove my eyes from his. I imagine that Nora did not fail to appreciate my sense of values. At any rate the pernods were forgiven.'

C.P.Curran, James Joyce Remembered, 1968, p89

I love the fact that Curran 'almost saw a red carpet'. Did he experience a timeslip into the future?