Tuesday, 21 August 2018

James Joyce in Nice

Here's a picture of a plaque unveiled on the wall of the Hotel Suisse in Nice in July 2013.  I found it on the Riviera Buzz website, which reported:

'Joyce had stayed at the hotel in October 1922, where he started working on the novel that was to become Finnegans Wake, a work that was to take up 17 years of his life.
   The unveiling was attended by the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, the Irish Ambassador to France, Paul Kavanagh, Bono, Pierre Joannon, the Irish Consul General on the Côte d’Azur....
    Messrs. Estrosi and Kavanagh officially unveiled the plaque. This has also been a busy couple of days in France for Bono, as he headed to Paris yesterday to be made commandeur de l’ordre des arts et des lettres in Paris.'

Here's a picture of the dedication ceremony from the Irish Times. 

At the ceremony, Bono made a speech in which he said, 'What U2 tries to do in music and words, (Joyce) could do with just words.'  Yes Bono really did say that!  Watch him say it here on youtube, and then watch John Cooper Clark asking, 'Who stole Bongo's trousers?'

The Hotel Suisse was one of those grand seaside resort hotels that Joyce spent so much of the 1920s and 1930s staying in.  He was there from mid October to 12 November 1922. Oh to be able to go on a Joyce trail around the seaside hotels of Europe!  (You can do it if you have the money - Danis Rose has listed all the hotel addresses in Appendix A to The Textual Diaries of James Joyce)

The story that Joyce began Finnegans Wake here was news to me. Ellmann covers the holiday briefly, and makes no mention of him starting a new book:

'The weather suddenly turned inclement, and the rain and windstorms had a deleterious effect upon his eye. He had to consult Dr Louis Colin, who applied five leeches to drain the blood from the eye....The holiday...was a failure.'  

Ellmann 1982, p537

I'd always believed that the Wake began in Paris the following year. Joyce wrote to Harriet Shaw Weaver on 11 March 1923:
'Yesterday I wrote two pages – the first I have written since the final Yes of Ulysses'

Letters I p 202
In fact, Joyce had done a lot of preparation before writing those two pages....



'I am quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors and paste man'

Joyce to George Antheil, 3 January 1931, Letters 1, 297

The connection between the Wake and Nice was discovered by Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon, in their article 'A Nice Beginning: On The Ulysses/Finnegans Wake Interface', published in European Joyce Studies 2, (1990).  This begins with a 1929 questionnaire sent to Joyce by Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair:

'How long has Joyce been at this new book?'
'7 years. Since October 1922. Begun at Nice.'

In a brilliant piece of detective work, they were able to date one of Joyce's notebooks to his stay in Nice.  It's an unruled children's exercise book, now in the University of Buffalo, known as VI.B.10.  A facsimile has been published by Brepols, but it costs 85 euros.

The earliest entries in the notebook are lists of Ulysses corrections, which Joyce had been collecting for months. Vincent Deane, editor of the notebook, told The Irish Times what happened next:

'He started doing some corrections in a child’s copy book. After a page or two, he complains of boredom, and begins taking notes from newspapers, harvesting material for later. This is where he drops Ulysses. He found writing a new book a more interesting use of his time. It’s like a photograph: you see James Joyce sitting in the hotel, facing the Baie des Anges, taking notes from the Daily Mail and The Irish Times, and he’s launched.' 

From the All Things Riviera website
Deane identified the sources of many of the notes as articles in The Irish Times, The Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Sketch, Evening Standard, Illustrated Sunday Herald, Sunday Express and Sunday Times. Joyce received these every day from Ireland and England.


The key dating evidence comes from this note:

'King Beaver redwhiskered 
policeman on a
green bicycle'

The source of this is a letter in the Irish Times about the game of Beaver,  a new craze which began in England in early 1922. Points were scored by spotting a passer-by with a beard or moustache and shouting 'Beaver!' or 'Walrus!'. Read about the game in the Saturday Gallery blog, where I found these cartoons.

Charles Grave's cartoon from Punch 1922
The Irish Times letter was from a Beaver player (Douglas from Dundalk) defending the game against an earlier letter attacking it:
'One need neither howl nor shout nor in any way offend the feelings of those who flaunt face-fungus in the form of either a 'Walrus' or a 'Beaver'....a 'Royal Beaver' is a man afflicted with a full outfit of face-fittings – to wit, beard and moustache – while a 'King Beaver' is a red-whiskered policeman riding a green bicycle.'

Irish Times 20 October 1922 

Joyce read this soon after it was published, for he refers to it in a letter to Harriet Shaw Waver from Nice, on 8 November.  She had told him that she believed that her house was being watched by a plain clothes policeman. Joyce replied: 'That solitary detective is an interesting figure. Is he what the English call a King Beaver, that is an Irish constabularyman with red whiskers, riding a red bicycle?' (Letters III, 193)

H.M.Bateman cartoon in Punch 1922

These newspapers were full of news of the Irish Civil War, raging in late 1922, but Joyce chose to ignore all the political stories (See Gert Lernout's lecture, 'Joyce as a Reader'). He preferred bizarre quirky items, like a 'redwhiskered poilceman on a green bicycle'.

Robbert-Jan Henkes describes the sort of stories that caught Joyce's bloodshot eye:

'Joyce took notes from the cooking sections for making apple pies and syllabubs, he made a list of London churches, took down quite a few golf terms scattered throughout the notebook, he noted words and phrases from ‘Our Ladies Letter’ section, facts about bats, expressions like ‘search me’, ‘pon my Sam’, ‘I bet you,’ and ‘holybones’, he took words from advertisements for per­sonnel (‘Youth wanted’), advertisements for Bird’s Egg Substitute cake-meal (‘a tin with a purpose’), for Hustler soap, for the Colgate Shaving Stick, for the Schoolgirl’s Weekly Magazine; one of his favourite pastimes is finding out of the way surnames from the births, marriages and deaths sections, possibly for his future characters.'

'Before King Roderick Became Publican in Chapelizod', Genetic Joyce Studies, Spring 2012

When Joyce was taking these notes, he can have had little idea of the sort of book he was going to write. Perhaps he saw his notes as 'the bread of everyday life', the raw material for his art.

'I am trying … to give people some kind of intellectual pleasure or spiritual enjoyment by converting the bread of everyday life into something that has a permanent artistic life of its own'  

quoted by Stanislaus Joyce, My Brother's Keeper

From March 1923, when he finally started writing the new book, he quarried the notebook for phrases, images and names. In fweet you can find hundreds of uses of this one notebook.
Joyce remembered beaver beards when he wanted to describe an unattractive older man from the point-of-view of a young woman. So, in the Tristan episode, Isolde views old King Mark with distaste as 'the tiresome old hairyg orangogran beaver' 396.16

And there's this footnote, written by Issy, which also refers to King Mark of Cornwall ('Cormwell')

'If old Herod with the Cormwell’s eczema was to go for me like he does Snuffler whatever about his blue canaries I’d do nine months for his beaver beard.' 260.F2

Another VI.B.10 note, 'walrus', from the same story, gave Joyce the walrus moustache of the king who gives HCE his name:

'Our sailor king, who was draining a gugglet of obvious adamale, gift both and gorban, upon this, ceasing to swallow, smiled most heartily beneath his walrus moustaches.' 31.11

Here's a typical page from the notebook, reproduced in the Brepols' Reader's Guide to their edition.


At the top here, Joyce has made notes about theatre superstitions:

'stage superstition 
no title with 'golden' 
not say tag 
Macbeth bad 
not whistle 
not quote Hamlet 
no peacock's feathers' 

The source of these notes is 'Actors less Superstitious' an article in The Daily Mail of 18 November 1922 (identified in McHugh's latest edition of Annotations).

Three of these later found their way into Finnegans Wake

'I will ask you not to whisple, cry golden or quoth mecback'  412.21

Underneath there is this set of notes

'dear delightful firelit hours
shortest of culottes
woolback satin

These come from the 17 November 1922  'Woman and the Home' column in the Irish Times:

'Since our sense of order is satisfied by having 'things to match', there is a nightdress, a petticoat, and the shortest of 'culottes', embroidered with white heather ... The dear delightful firelit hours can be doubly appreciated if one is the possessor of a becoming negligée. In wool-back satin or velveteen this garment need not be inordinately expensive, ... Short negligées, for those who are sick-a-bed and inclined to be luxurious, can be fashioned of scraps of georgette and lace'
(quoted by Gert Lernout, 'Joyce as a Reader')

From this, Joyce took the word 'sickabed', which he used in the 'Mamalujo' episode, his treatment of senility:

'he was dead seasickabed (it was really too bad!) her poor old divorced male, in the housepays for the daying at the Martyr Mrs MacCawley’s'  392.06.

You can see that the word 'sickabed' has been crossed out in the notebook Joyce did this to stop him using entries more than once.

This is a very strange way to write a book! 


'Fr Bern. Vaughan granted privilege of portable altar'  VI.B.10.013.e

This notebook entry comes from an obituary of the famous Jesuit priest, Father Bernard Vaughan, in the Irish Times.
'As a mark of special favour in 1916 Father Vaughan received a letter from Pope Benedict XV, congratulating him upon his jubilee in the priesthood and granting him the privilege of a portable altar.' 

Irish Times 1 November 1922

I found Pope Benedict's letter about the altar in C.C. Martindale's biography of Vaughan.

Beginning the Wake, Joyce gave Father Bernard Vaughan's portable altar to his own priest figure, St Kevin, making it a combination altar and bathtub!:

Procreated on the ultimate ysland of Yreland in the encyclical yrish archipelago, come their feast of precreated holy whiteclad angels, whomamong the christener of his, voluntarily poor Kevin, having been graunted the praviloge of a priest’s postcreated portable altare cum balneo...  605.04 

A portable altar from Father Carota's Traditional Catholic Priest blog

Unlike many of the other stories Joyce took notes from, it's easy to see why he was interested in Vaughan's obituary.  The priest had fascinated Joyce for decades. Here's a 1906 letter to Stanislaus:

'Father B.V. is the most diverting public figure in England at present. I never see his name but I expect some enormity.'

Joyce to Stanislaus, 10 October 1906, Letters II, 182

Vaughan was the model for the grotesque worldly priest in 'Grace':

'In 'Grace', in which the preacher...chooses a difficult text and deals with it like a self-confident charlatan, he used as his model for the preacher of the sermon, Father Purdon, the figure of Father Bernard Vaughan, a very popular evangelist in those days, whose name was frequently in the newspapers and who had appeared to crowded congregations also in Dublin. He was a Jesuit, a member of an old English family, and a vulgarian priest in search of publicity. Besides preaching from his legitimate stage, the pulpit, he used to deliver short breezy talks from inappropriate places, such as the boxing ring before a champion match. My brother's contempt for him is evident in the choice of name with which he adorned him, Father Purdon. The old name for the street of the brothels in Dublin was Purdon Street.'

Stanislaus Joyce, My Brother's Keeper, p 225

Vaughan meets an Iroquois chief in Canada

'He came to speak to business men and he would speak to them in a businesslike way. If he might use the metaphor, he said, he was their spiritual accountant.'


‘He willingly used trade expressions – he liked to say that he belonged 'to the firm that defied all competition,' and was for ever talking about 'delivering the goods'.

C.C.Martindale, Bernard Vaughan S.J., Longmans 1923 p.57

Father Vaughan in China. Did he get his portable altar out?

Vaughan also appears in Ulysses, where the genteel Father John Conmee thinks about his habit of using cockney dialect in his sermons:

'Yes, it was very probable that Father Bernard Vaughan would come again to preach. O, yes: a very great success. A wonderful man really.....Father Conmee walked and, walking, smiled for he thought on Father Bernard Vaughan's droll eyes and cockney voice. 
—Pilate! Wy don't you old back that owlin mob? 
A zealous man, however. Really he was. And really did great good in his way. Beyond a doubt. He loved Ireland, he said, and he loved the Irish. Of good family too would one think it? Welsh, were they not?'

'Wandering Rocks'

Bloom thinks about the same sermon:

'Father Bernard Vaughan's sermon first. Christ or Pilate? Christ, but don't keep us all night over it.'

"Lotus Eaters'

So with Vincent Deane's identification of the 'portable altar', we can now say that Father Bernard Vaughan SJ makes an appearance in Dubliners, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake!

From the Linenhall Library Postcard Collection

Well done Nice for putting a plaque on the Hotel Suisse! Isn't it time Paris started placing a few plaques on the addresses where Joyce actually wrote the Wake?


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Count John McCormack in Finnegans Wake

'Songs betune the acts by...Joan MockComic, male soprano...' 222.07

'A concert was given in the large hall of the Antient Concert Rooms on Saturday night, and attracted a full house....Mr J.C.Doyle sang a number of songs in first-rate style....Mr James A Joyce, the possessor of a sweet tenor voice, sang charmingly 'The Salley Gardens', and gave a pathetic rendering of 'The Croppy Boy'....Mr. J.F. M'Cormack was the hero of the evening. It was announced that it was his last public appearance in Ireland.'   

The Freeman's Journal, 29 August 1904 (quoted by Ellmann, 1982, p168)

I photographed The Antient Concert Rooms on Bloomsday 2015
Joyce's 1904 appearance on stage with John McCormack was 'the high point of his musical career' (Ellmann). The concert also gave him the background for the Dubliners story 'A Mother' and the singers to accompany Molly Bloom on her tour.

Louis Werner is touring her, Mr Bloom said. O yes, we’ll have all topnobbers. J. C. Doyle and John MacCormack I hope and. The best, in fact.  'Hades' Ulysses

(Joyce almost always misspelled McCormack as MacCormack)

Both men left Ireland soon after. McCormack found fame, film stardom, riches, US citizenship and the title of Papal Count. Joyce faced years of poverty and struggles to be published.  Nora Barnacle, who thought 'Jim should have stuck to singing instead of bothering with writing', never let him forget that he had once shared a stage with McCormack.  

Joyce must have envied McCormack's success, especially since he believed that their voices were so similar. 

'Joyce sang a few ''come-all-ye's'' and told of the night in Dublin, before 1904, when he and John McCormack sang on the same programme. The critics had then predicted a great singing career for Joyce and had not been so favourable to Mr. McCormack.
   Nora started the gramophone because she had a record by a great Spanish baritone which she like very much. Joyce was fidgety, waiting for the record to finish so that he could play a record of John McCormack's. 'There is no voice like a fine tenor, do you think, McAlmon?' he said earnestly. 'You're a glutton for flattery, aren't you, Joyce?' I answered. Joyce brightened up and said, 'And why are you saying that? Now tell me, seriously.'
   'Ah, sure he knows you, Jim,' Nora Joyce said brusquely. ' You want to hear McCormack's voice because it's like your own entirely. Was there ever such a vain man!''

Robert McAlmon, Being Geniuses Together, 1968 edition, p344

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.'

Padraic Colum, Our Friend James Joyce, p184-5.  

But Joyce's voice must have lacked McCormack's power. 

His voice was clarion clear and though high pitched was not at all strident. His build may have been too slight for a successful tenor. I remember John McCormack, whose career began with a victory at the Feis, telling me that he could not reduce below 224 pounds without a change in the quality of his voice.


Oliver St John Gogarty, 'Joyce as a Tenor', Intimations, 1950


In a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, Joyce quotes this exchange with Lucia:

Lucia: I have been thinking all day of John MacCormack. It is unjust. Why is he a count, a millionaire etc.? I thought of writing to the pope.
Joyce: Be careful of your grammar. He is a learned man.
Lucia: He is an old dotard. But it is unjust. How long will your country refuse to recognise what you have done.
Joyce: How long indeed?

To HSW 17 December 1934 Letters I p354.

'He had followed the career of John MacCormack step by step....He read all the newspaper accounts of MacCormack's doings, his love affairs, his tennis playing, his way of dressing and his curly hairdo.....Joyce talked so much about John MacCormack that finally I got all of his records....It was 'Molly Brannigan' of course that interested Joyce. He asked me didn't I notice a striking resemblance between his own voice and MacCormack's...there was indeed a resemblance between the two voices.'

Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company, p.187


Shem and Shaun, the rival twins in Finnegans Wake, are largely portraits of Joyce and McCormack. Seamus ('Shem is as short for Shemus') and Shaun are the Irish forms of James and John. Like McCormack, Shaun is a devout Catholic, curly-haired, popular with women, boastful, sentimental and a massive eater.

'Little did MacCormack know that he was sitting for his portrait to James Joyce...Of course many people contributed odds and ends to Joyce's characters, but these were only the accessories. One figure dominated. When I attended a recital of John MacCormack's with the Joyces, I felt that I had already met him in Shaun the Post. 
  MacCormack's lovely tenor voice and his great art were irresistible, and I applauded him almost as enthusiastically as did Joyce. He asked me if I had noticed MacCormack's pigeon toed way of walking on and off the platform, and if I didn't think him charming with his chubbiness, his curls, and his manner of bowing. Indeed I did. But what I found amazing, and touching, was Joyce's infatuation, the extraordinary emotions he displayed as he listened to him.'

Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company, p.186-7     

Joyce also urged his patroness Harriet Shaw Weaver to buy McCormack's records and see him in concert. This was his way of getting her to understand his Shaun character.

'If you have a gramophone you ought to get some discs of John MacCormack. I have some which are very good.'

To Harriet Shaw Weaver, 25 March 1935, Letters III, p118

'When are you going to London? Mr MacCormack with surely give a concert there and I would like you to hear him.'

To Harriet Shaw Weaver, 15 August 1925, Letters I, p231 

'Count Shaun MacCormack sings here on Tuesday.'

To Harriet Shaw Weaver, 20 May 1928, Letters I, p.177 





McCormack was famous for sentimental songs, such as 'When Irish Eyes are Smiling''Little Mother of Mine', 'Little Boy Blue' and 'Mother Machree'.
Here's Shaun, breaking down in tears at the thought of his dear mother.

'he virtually broke down on the mooherhead, getting quite jerry over her, overpowered by himself with the love of the tearsilver that he twined through her hair for, sure, he was the soft semplgawn slob of the world with a heart like Montgomery's in his showchest'  426.07-11

Sure I love the dear silver that shines in your hair,
And the brow that's all furrowed and wrinkled with care.
I kiss the dear fingers so toil-worn for me,
Oh, God bless you and keep you, Mother Machree! 

It was said that McCormack had broken down in tears while singing Mother Machree in a concert where his mother was in the audience. McCormack's biographer Pierre Key asked him if it was true.

'When I sang 'Mother Machree,' which happened to be for the first time in Ireland, I confess to being deeply moved. But mother was nearer to tears than I. It was, I believe, the most eloquent interpretation of the song I had ever given; there was reason enough in my mother's being there and I think the audience sensed it, and understood the reason. Two years before, in San Francisco, when I first sang 'Mother Machree,' I felt a lump in my throat; the poem and the music always affect me.'
Pierre Key, John McCormack His Own Life Story, p312


Show’m the Posed: fluttered and flattered around the willingly pressed, nominating him for the swiney prize, complimenting him, the captivating youth, on his having all his senses about him, stincking thyacinths through his curls (O feen! O deur!) and bringing busses to his cheeks, their masculine Oirisher Rose (his neece cleur!), and legando round his nice new neck for him and pizzicagnoling his woolywags, with their dindy dandy sugar de candy mechree me postheen flowns courier to belive them of all his untiring young dames... 92.13

Goodbye now, Shaun replied, with a voice pure as a churchmode, in echo rightdainty, with a good catlick tug at his cocomoss candylock, a foretaste in time of his cabbageous brain’s curlyflower. 409.11

Jaun (after he had in the first place doffed a hat with a reinforced crown and bowed to all the others in that chorus of praise of goodwill girls on their best beehiviour who all they were girls all rushing sowarmly for the post as buzzy as sie could bie to read his kisshands, kittering all about, rushing and making a tremendous girlsfuss over him pellmale, their jeune premier and his rosyposy smile, mussing his frizzy hair and the golliwog curls of him 430.17

After poor Jaun the Boast’s last fireless words of postludium of his soapbox speech ending in’sheaven, twentyaid add one with a flirt of wings were pouring to his bysistance (could they snip that curl of curls to lay with their gloves and keep the kids bright!) 469.29 



'Shaun himself has been three times in the Trianons this last week and you will see by the enclosed photograph that the regional dishes are agreeing with him. We did not meet however as he came to lunch and you know that my high code of morals forbids me to lunch and dine in the same place....My ho head whawls and I feel as heavy as John McCormack'


To  Harriet Shaw Weaver, 28 October 1928, Letters I p 272-3


'The impression given by his wife is that, like Jaun-Shaun, (McCormack) was a great child who ate and ate – food, drink, violins, motor cars, toy trains, chalices, yachts, Rodins and grew heavier and heavier physically.'

Adaline Glasheen, A Third Census of Finnegans Wake, p 177

In the Shem chapter, McCormack-Shaun gives us a hostile portrait of Joyce-Shem, whose lowness is demonstrated first by his lack of a hearty appetite:


'None of your inchthick blueblooded Balaclava fried-at-belief-stakes or juicejelly legs of the Grex’s molten mutton or greasilygristly grunters’ goupons or slice upon slab of luscious goosebosom with lump after load of plumpudding stuffing all aswim in a swamp of bogoakgravy for that greekenhearted yude!' 170.32

Shauns' vast appetetite is described at length on pages 405-7

'He was immense, topping swell for he was after having a great time of it, a twentyfour hours every moment matters maltsight, in a porterhouse,...where in the sighed of lovely eyes while his knives of hearts made havoc he had recruited his strength by meals of spadefuls of mounded food, in anticipation of the faste of tablenapkins, constituting his threepartite pranzipal meals plus a collation, his breakfast of first, a bless us O blood and thirsthy orange, next, the half of a pint of becon with newled googs and a segment of riceplummy padding, met of sunder suigar and some cold forsoaken steak peatrefired from he batblack night o’erflown then, without prejuice to evectuals came along merendally his stockpot dinner of a half a pound of round steak, very rare, Blong’s best from Portarlington’s Butchery, with a side of riceypeasy...'

Shaun gets bigger and bigger until he appears as the grotesque swollen recumbent figure of Yawn in Book III chapter 3.

'Lowly, longly, a wail went forth. Pure Yawn lay low.' 474.01



Joyce's fullest treatment of Shaun and McCormack is in Book Three Chapters 1 and 2 (pages 403-73). These pages are packed with McCormack's song repertoire, such as 'Mother Machree' quoted above. You can see 49 examples listed here in Fweet.

The list doesn't include 'Molly Brannigan', though it appears at 442.27 ('Ohibow, if I was Blonderboss I'd gooandfrighthisdualman!') and 451.25 'Not a spot of my hide but you'd love to seek and scanagain!')

In these episodes, Shaun sometimes bursts into song, singing the notes of the tonic Solfa:

Does she lag soft fall means rest down? Shaun yawned, as his general address rehearsal 407.27

do, si, la, sol, fa, mi, re, do  

Here he is boasting that you will never catch him singing off key because he has a 'whatyoumacormack' (tuning fork?) in his trousers:

'O twined me abower in L’Alouette’s Tower, all Adelaide’s naughtingerls juckjucking benighth me, I’d gamut my twittynice Dorian blackbudds chthonic solphia off my singasongapiccolo to pipe musicall airs on numberous fairyaciodes. I give, a king, to me, she does, alone, up there, yes see, I double give, till the spinney all eclosed asong with them. Isn’t that lovely though? I give to me alone I trouble give! I may have no mind to lamagnage the forte bits like the pianage but you can’t cadge me off the key. I’ve a voicical lilt too true. Nomario! And bemolly and jiesis! For I sport a whatyoumacormack in the latcher part of my throughers. And the lark that I let fly (olala!) is as cockful of funantics as it’s tune to my fork.'  450.17

Joyce gave a gloss on this to Stuart Gilbert:

I give… — This is a translation of the “tonic solfa” names of the notes in the scale (as an italian ear might hear them:do, “Igive”, re, “a king”, and so on): do, re, mi fa, sol, la, si, do. I double give: the high do (C)...
I give to me… —— This is the major chord (do-mi-sol—do: CEGC). 

'Prolegomena to A Work in Progress' in Our Exagmination


In 1920, sixteen years after their last meeting, Joyce met McCormack in London. According to McCormack's brother, James, who was also there, the tenor urged Joyce to 'get straight with the Church.' (See John Scarry's article, 'James Joyce and John McCormack' )

McCormack was a devout Catholic, a Papal Count who also received three papal knighthoods, and was invited by the Pope to sing at the his Mass in the Phoenix Park for the 1932 Eucharistic Congress.  Here's an earlier recording of 'Panis Angelicus' which McCormack sang there.

'I heard a voice, the voce of Shaun, vote of the Irish, voise from afar (and cert no purer puer palestrine e’er chanted panangelical mid the clouds of Tu es Petrus...'407.13

This side of McCormack appears in 'The Second Watch of Shaun',  a 'Lentern lecture' in conventional morality given by Shaun, now Jaun, to Issy and the girls.

'adhere to as many as probable of the ten commandments touching purgations and indulgences and in the long run they will prove for your better guidance along your path of right of way' 432.26


At the end of his lecture, Jaun announces that he's about to go off to the United States, boasting of the vast fortunes he will make there.

'I'd run my shoestring into near a million or so'  452.33   

Gilbert glosses 'run my shoestring' as '(American) make easy money. The American note is appropriate, for Jaun is the sort of Irishman who crosses the ocean and makes his pile in the States.'

The Jaun chapter is a farewell to Ireland performance, like McCormack's at the Antient Concert Rooms in 1904. 

In a later chapter, the narrator, looking at the sleeping infant Shaun, predicts that he will grow up 'to wend him to Amorica to quest a cashy job...O, I adore the profeen music! Dollarmighty!' 562.29 


In preparing his Shaun chapters, Joyce made heavy, and eccentric, use of this 1918 biography of McCormack, based on interviews with Pierre Key. You can read a facsimile of the book here.

The Genetic Wakean Ingebord Landuyt has written a fascinating article about Joyce's use of this book in Genetic Wake Studies.  Here's Landuyt:

'The nearly twenty-five pages of notes in VI.B.16...are a demonstration of Joyce’s continued interest in all 433 pages of his source text....Of the approximately one hundred and seventy entries that Joyce collected, he used over a third, the majority of them soon afterwards in the first chapters of what was to become book III. This is much more than his average use of sources. The notes that Joyce took in VI.B.16 on McCormack were often tagged to the Shaun siglum or immediately transformed accordingly: The "McCormack way"(JMC 18) in the original is "the Shaun way"(VI.B.16: 101; FW 442.22) in the notebook, and when the tenor is reported to have said something ("said the tenor" JMC 29), Shaun's profession replaces the original ("said the postman" VI.B.16: 103).'

You can read the quotations that Joyce took from the book listed here in fweet. Most of them are everyday phrases, like 'see you Thursday', 'dripping with perspiration', and 'gulped apologetically'. So the source of 'mussing his frizzy hair and the golliwog curls of him' quoted above (430.23) is this passage from page 22:

"I had no extensive repertoire," he informed me, "but what I knew I knew. And the singing spirit, I guess, must have been there. Like the man born to be hanged, I possibly was intended to sing." 
  There came, then, an interruption. John didn't seem to mind. He appeared rather to welcome it in the form of a girl of nine, lithe and jubilant and affectionately inclined. And straightway Gwendolyn McCormack danced over to her father and mussed his hair in most familiar fashion.
 In the case of Gwenny, photographs do not serve. They miss, for one thing, the spirit of Irish beauty which is hers and which, for full appreciation, must be seen in the flesh. The glint of her hair, too, is something for actual sight. An optimistic lass, with bubbling nature, a sturdy little body and unspoiled ways.

This could come straight out of the 'Nausicaa' episode of Ulysses. Think of all the other phrases Joyce could have taken here! 

'Their masculine Oirisher Rose' (92.18) comes from a passage on p74 describing McCormack's future wife, the soprano Lily Foley:

She just stood there, like a feminine Irish rose, and brought everyone to her feet.

Without Joyce's notebook VI.B.16, and the hard work of genetic scholars tracking down these entries, we'd have no idea that he used this book. But Joyce didn't expect his readers to identify these quotations. For him, the important thing was that McCormack's book was feeding into the Wake. Joyce saw his work as a collective creation, in which he was a channel rather than author:

'Really it is not I who am writing this crazy book,' Joyce told a party of friends. 'It is you, and you, and you, and that man over there, and that girl at the next table.'  

Eugene Jolas, 'My Friend James Joyce' in James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism (ed Givens), 1948
'The book was indeed his life and he believed that he was entrapping some part of the essence of life within its pages....Joyce was not in his own opinion simply writing a book, he was also performing a work of magic.'

J.S.Atherton, The Books at the Wake, p.15

By using so many quotations from the biography, Joyce was 'entrapping some part of the essence' of Count John McCormack in Finnegans Wake.


It's possible that Joyce told McCormack that he had used him as a model for Shaun. John Scarry says that at their final meeting,  in Paris in September 1929,  Joyce gave the singer a copy of Tales Told of Shem and Shaun, just published by the Black Sun Press. McCormack later lent the copy to a journalist from the New York World, saying, 'In Joyce's work you have a great tour-de-force' (John Scarry, 'Joyce and McCormack').

I doubt if Joyce told McCormack that he had mischievously transformed him into 'Joan MockComic, male soprano' alongside his fellow Irish tenor, John Sullivan:

Songs betune the acts by the ambiamphions of Annapolis, Joan MockComic, male soprano, and Jean Souslevin, bass noble, respectively   222.07-8

Joyce is contrasting the lyric tenor voice of McCormack with Sullivan's dramatic heroic tenor.

Ambiamphions – Amphion, the singer, and his twin brother Zethus, the herdsman, built the walls of Thebes.  Unlike the mythical twins, McCormack and Sullivan are both singers - ambi (both) Amphions.
Annapolis - the city (polis)  of Anna (Liffey) i.e. Dublin. 

Jean Souslevin – In France, Sullivan used the professional name Jean Sullivan. Sous-le-vin -‘under the wine’. Ellmann writes Sullivan ‘did not need much persuasion from Joyce to have a drink’.

My next post will be all about Joyce's obsession with John Sullivan, who he described as having 'incomparably the greatest human voice I have ever heard, beside which Chaliapine is braggadocio and McCormack insignificant.' (To HSW 18 March 1930, Letters I, p291)..

Sullivan and Joyce


To finish, here's a trailer for Padraig Trehy's 2013 film, 'Shem the Penman Sings Again', in which Joyce's and McCormack’s encounters over the years are reimagined in a variety of early cinematic styles. You can read an interview with the director here.

I have yet to see the film, but it looks wonderful!