From the moment I laid eyes on the book William Blake by Kathleen Raine I knew that I had to have it. I was immediately hooked by the artwork of Blake (1757-1827) whose images slowly revealed themselves to my mind’s eye like those cunning illusions in the Magic Eye books I so loved as a kid. This had also been my experience of reading Joyce’s Ulysses, multiple times.
If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try and decipher a passage from Finnegans Wake this article is for you. As an added bonus, I’ll share an amazing connection I personally have to the text, and to our newsletter Joyicity.
As part of the art fair Documenta 14 held in Kassel, Germany the Argentinian artist Marta Minujín had made to be built in Kassel’s Friedrichsplatz a 1:1 scale version of the Athenian Parthenon. The books chosen were titles which at some time or place had been suppressed or censored. It was the Parthenon of (Forbidden) Books.
Jo Baker’s A Country Road, A Tree (2016) is an exciting and moving novel detailing Samuel Beckett’s experiences in occupied France during World War Two. Though it is a fictionalized account, Baker did extensive research before writing the book, and the final product is a strange and beautiful mixture of historical events and imagined or inferred encounters.
I met my sister in Dublin. We were two Kelley girls getting together in the land of our ancestors for four days of Joyce—my aim—she didn’t know more than the name and my interest. But I never expected to find that the stage version of Ulysses would be on at the Abbey Theatre! The Abbey Theatre about which I had read so much!
The Irish short-story writer and novelist William Trevor died last November. He was 88. His readers say he is one of the best writers ever, and with titles like How We Got Drunk on Cake, how can we resist giving him a place on our reading list? I had encountered Trevor’s work before, in The New Yorker, but reading a whole book of short stories makes a big difference. You really get to see the depth of his characterizations.