Joyce's role in causing the great slump

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The Independent Online

Today, all you need to know about the Bloomsday Landing Celebrations!

Today, all you need to know about the Bloomsday Landing Celebrations!

Q. What is the Bloomsday Landing and why are we celebrating it?

A. One hundred years ago, on June 16 1904, a Mr Leopold Bloom and a Mr Stephen Dedalus ran amok in the city of Dublin in Ireland. The only eye witness, a Mr James Joyce, fled the country to Paris, where he later published his account of the whole affair. It was a great scandal.

Q. But what was the Bloomsday Landing?

A. Ah, that was the name given to Mr Joyce's advance on Paris. He was determined to capture the capital city of France and use it for his own advantages.

Q. What was name of the beach on which Joyce landed to start his invasion of Paris?

A. Sylvia Beach.

Q. And how was he able to overpower Paris?

A. Once in Paris, Joyce embarked on a lightning campaign of getting things on account, sponging, borrowing, running up unpaid bills, etc, until suddenly all Paris found they were owed money by Joyce. There was nothing they could do about it. The city was his. Indirectly, this led to the Depression and the great slump of the 1930s in France.

Q. Leading to Hitler's takeover of the city, already weakened by Joyce's depredations?

A. Exactly.

Q. Did Hitler and Joyce ever meet?

A. No, although they admired each other greatly as tacticians. Joyce admired Hitler's ability to get anything published that he wanted to. Hitler admired Joyce's tactical skill in retreating - each time, just when Hitler thought he had him cornered, Joyce fell back on Zurich, Rome, Trieste, etc, at a moment's notice.

Q. What was the effect on his home country of the publication of James Joyce's eye-witness account of the doings of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus?

A. None at all.

Q. Why not?

A. It was not allowed to be published there.

Q. Why not?

A. The authorities feared it might be obscene and have a bad influence on people.

Q. And were the authorities right?

A. No one knows. Even the authorities were not allowed to read it, so they had no idea if they were doing the right thing.

Q. But did not Joyce's book become the most influential and revolutionary book in the 20th century?

A. No. This is often said to be the case, but oddly enough, nobody has ever found any novel written since then which shows much, if any, sign of being influenced by Joyce.

Q. So who says that it is so innovative and influential?

A. The army of Joyce experts.

Q. Who are the army of Joyce experts?

A. They are the old warriors of the Joyce industry who have been parading through the streets of Dublin this week to celebrate the centenary of the Bloomsday Landings. Wearing their old battle uniforms of corduroy jacket and scuffed brown shoes, they are older now, and many show distressing signs of repeating themselves and getting lost in footnotes, but they are the very men who set out all those years ago to fight each other to the death for academic glory and possibly also the honour of James Joyce. Were it not for them, there would be nobody alive who claims to be able to understand any of Finnegans Wake. In his memory, they are running up unpaid bar bills all over Dublin.

Q. Will they be going to Paris as well?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. In case they are called on to pay any of Joyce's unpaid bar bills which still survive.

Q. Can you say that James Joyce's triumphant conquering of Paris led the way to the liberation of the human spirit and the entering of the imagination upon the modern era?

A. You can say anything you damned well like. Personally, I'm going for a drink.

Q. Can I come with you?

A. If you pay.