GENETIC JOYCE STUDIES - Issue 12 (Spring 2012)



Joseph MacCabe in Ulysses


Ronan Crowley and Geert Lernout


Although he is now largely forgotten, Joseph McCabe was an imposing figure in the first half of the twentieth century. A prolific writer and successful public speaker, he was a formidable promoter of freethought, the organized opposition to religion that had its heyday in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth. As a propagandist for what was also called “materialism”, “secularism” or “rationalism”, McCabe was the Little Blue Book series’ most productive contributor, putting his hand to over 100 booklets published between the 1920s and 1950s. He was incredibly outspoken and influential, so much so that he is included in G.K. Chesterton’s Heretics (1905) alongside such heterodox writers as Rudyard Kipling, G.B. Shaw, H.G. Wells, and George Moore. Less obviously, he also contributed to another book that teems with heresies and heretical associations, that “Blue Book of Eccles” (FW 179.27), Joyce’s Ulysses.

Joseph Martin McCabe (1867-1955) was born in Cheshire, England, the son of an Irish famine exile. He grew up in a Catholic household, doing very well at school. After a brief period working in a warehouse, he joined the Franciscan order and spent his novitiate at a monastery in Killarney. In 1886 he took his vows as “brother Anthony” and continued his studies in London. The man who would later be referred to as the  “atomic bomb of the intellectual world” (Haldeman-Julius 21) became, at the tender age of twenty-three, Professor of Philosophy and Ecclesiastical History at the main training college of the Franciscans, Forest Gate. He was troubled continually by religious doubts, however, and on Christmas morning 1895 he finally lost whatever faith he had had. The next Ash Wednesday he left the order and Catholicism.

            Penniless and without much practical knowledge of the world, McCabe moved to London where he met F.J. Gould of the Rationalist Press Committee. For Gould, McCabe wrote a pamphlet From Rome to Rationalism (1896), which he expanded a year later into Why I Left the Church. The two texts were then combined as Twelve Years in a Monastery (1897), one early publisher of which was Grant Richards—the same Richards with whom Joyce ten years later would commence his protracted dealings over Dubliners. In 1899 McCabe became a board member of the Rationalist Press Association and his proleptic Religion in the Twentieth Century (1899) became the first book of the press. In the first fifteen years of RPA’s existence he would write and publish fifty-seven books, translating a further sixteen from German, French, and Spanish. But already at the fin de siècle, his impress on the transatlantic print sphere was such that his work was appearing in London with Smith, Elder, & Co. and with the radical publishing house Watts & Co. and in Chicago and New York with H.S. Stone & Co. It was Leslie Stephen, father of Virginia, who had convinced McCabe to turn to non-fiction and he found publishers for the early autobiographical works and for many more books besides. In A Rebel to His Last Breath, McCabe’s most recent biographer, Bill Cooke, calculates that in this period the former priest managed to finish a book or translation every ten weeks (39).

            Geert Lernout has described the influence of the freethinking movement on Joyce in Help My Unbelief, but at the time it was somewhat of a disappointment for him to find that Joyce seemed to have been unaware of the work of one of the great mouthpieces of freethought in England. Lernout did discover that McCabe’s 1900 translation of Ernst Haeckel’s Die Welträthsel: gemeinverständliche Studien über monistische Philosophie (1899) contributes minutely to Ulysses—in “Scylla and Charybdis” Buck Mulligan refers slightingly to the divinity as a “gaseous vertebrate” (U 9.487), employing McCabe’s equivalent for Haeckel’s “gasförmigen Wirbelthieres” (Lernout 2004-2005 117-118, 142)—but a more sustained engagement with the freethinker seemed not to have left any discernable mark on the novel. Indeed, the translation of Die Welträthsel ended up selling half a million copies, making it one of the biggest bestsellers of the new century, and the phrase “gaseous vertebrate” ricocheted around the print sphere as a modish shibboleth of the freethinkers and their detractors, trumpeted in rationalist publications and decried by a Christian press. Joyce could have encountered the witty irreverence picked up ’most everywhere.



A man like Ireland wants: McCabe in “Circe”



Ronan Crowley has found a direct borrowing from McCabe in “Circe”. As Bloom stands before his “beloved subjects” and prophesies the new Bloomusalem, he foresees “the golden city which is to be” (U 15.1542, 1544). The compositional precursor to this heavenly vision is the green-crossed element “the Golden / City that is to be”, which is recorded in a notebook with plain blue covers now at the National Library of Ireland (NLI MS 36,639/4, p. [7v] | “Circe” lines 28-29) [view]. Along with neighbouring phrases and lone words on the pages headed “Circe” in the three later NLI notebooks, this element was crossed in green crayon and transferred to the notesheets in preparation for the “Messianic scene” of summer 1921 (BL “Circe” 17:84, see Crowley). But “upstream”, as it were, the notebook entry is a direct quotation from Joseph McCabe’s The Religion of Woman: An Historical Study (1905):


Many women are to-day looking with a new yearning over the narrow enclosures we have built about them. They are demanding—and it is a noble demand—that we admit them to work at our side in the making of the Golden City that is to be. They are prepared to rise from the groove in which their lives have lain, not through their fault. (94; emphasis added) [view]


In terms of his productivity, 1905 was a typical year for McCabe. He published one book of his own, four translations (two from Haeckel) and he lectured at least twice a month, with the first lecture on 1 January centred on the Welsh revival and the last on 24 December concerning “The Evolution of Christmas”. The Religion of Woman was published by Watts & Co., “issued for the Rationalist Press Association, Limited” in two editions, a green book of 199 pages with gold lettering on the cover and a cheaper red-backed volume with two columns of text on ninety-four pages.

This early work is mentioned only in passing in Cooke’s biography, which, nonetheless, devotes a whole chapter to a discussion of McCabe’s thoughts on the woman issue and contrasts his progressive views with the general feeling at the time among Christian apologists and some parts of the freethought movement. Joyce could have bought the book at any time in the period between its 1905 publication and his work on the revisions to Ulysses in 1921. It is not likely that he took a copy with him from Trieste to Zurich, however, but he may have bought it in Switzerland or found it again on his return to the Italian city. In any case, whatever notes he took were transferred into at least two notebooks, both of which are now at the National Library of Ireland, for use in the final months of work on Ulysses. The original of Bloom’s impassioned promise occurs at the very end of The Religion of Woman, in the course of “An Appeal” to “the women who may read this essay” (92). McCabe rejects the truism that the female sex is more inclined to religion because it is “more emotional, less intellectual” (92), suggesting that it is therefore up to women to demand equality and, moreover, for rationalists to help them. Interestingly, the gender inclusiveness he advocates is lost to a male-centred display of national unity in the phrase’s commute to “Circe”: the new Bloomusalem is constructed by “[t]hirtytwo workmen, wearing rosettes, from all the counties of Ireland” (U 15.1546-47). As always, the disclosure of another of Joyce’s sources requires critical circumspection before one can legitimately make claims for carryover that exceeds precise lexical borrowing. In the case of The Religion of Woman, however, that question is especially fraught since Joyce tended not to draw verbatim material from the volume and, moreover, he seems to have used McCabe’s study as a way to reach other texts, as an omnium gatherum of the church fathers’ writings on women.



Pious Misogyny: The Religion of Woman



The Religion of Woman is dedicated to George Anderson, an English philanthropist who had supported the Rationalist movement, and introduced by Lady Florence Dixie, one of the most influential suffragettes in England. The latter was extremely well connected, being the sister of the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, he of the boxing code and father to Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. Like her brother, Lady Dixie was a political liberal. She had supported Home Rule for Ireland and joined the fight for the equality for women (Bloom 146), even writing a feminist utopian novel, Gloriana, or the Revolution of 1900 (1890). Her The Story of Ijain, or the Evolution of a Mind (1903) was a thinly disguised autobiographical novel in which her atheism played an important role. For his part, her brother lost his seat as a representative peer for Scotland when he refused to take the mandatory religious oath in the House of Lords—he described it as “Christian tomfoolery” (Hyde 69). Soon thereafter he was offered and promptly accepted the presidency of the short-lived British Secular Union (Murray 8).

            In her introduction to The Religion of Woman, Florence Dixie describes women as toiling like slaves for a taskmaster called Superstitious Religion: “a system of faith in the products of imagination, belief in the miraculous, and credence in the unnatural—a worship of man-made fiats” (5). The problem is that every “superstitious religion, more or less, enslaves woman, and proclaims her inferiority to man” (6). Christianity in particular has always kept women in bondage. “It is the business of the Bibleites to obstruct the revolt of the female, and to prevent, if possible the forces of Evolution and Civilisation from giving woman her freedom” (6). Women can only turn to science to lead them out of bondage— “Freethought is the David whose sling must strike the Goliath of Superstition down and give freedom and happiness to the world”—even if that struggle can only be described in terms drawn from the Old Testament (9).

            McCabe’s study proper opens with a description of the cathedral of York Minster, whose present Gothic edifice occupies a site on which many different forms of religion have been practiced. Like Schliemann’s Troy, the cathedral is built on the ruins of older places of worship and the architectural palimpsest inclines McCabe to reverie. “As in the dust of some most ancient town, you read into the thin strata long periods of the social and religious life of humanity. […] Druid priests have given place to shaven monks and gorgeously-attired Catholic priests, and these again in the roll of ages to the sober-clad clergy of the Church of England” (11). This evolutionary change is also entropic: “With all its prestige, its endowments, its aesthetic charm, its power of social aggregation, its devoted ministry, its alertness to the times, the Church which the minster represents is losing its hold on the nation. The majority of the people now pass by its open doors, and refuse to share in any form of worship whatever” (12). Yet, in the face of increasing neglect, McCabe finds, like Florence Dixie, that of those who still consider themselves to be Christians, the vast majority are women (13). Their “religious instinct” (16) is at odds with the treatment of women within Christianity, however. The task McCabe thus sets himself in The Religion of Woman is nothing less than an exposé of the degradation of women under the church.

            The second chapter looks at the position of women in “pagan culture” (18). In most of the non-Christian world, women enjoyed some degree of freedom, but it is in Greece and Rome that the foundations were laid for modern European culture. The Greeks abandoned polygamy quite early and McCabe finds evidence of a growing concern for women’s rights both in the tragedies and in the work of Plato and Aristotle. As a result, by the time of the introduction of Christianity to Greece, “woman’s oppression was virtually over, and a clear promise of a more enlightened social order can be discerned” (20). In the Roman world, women were generally treated better than they had been in Greece or Israel: “long before there could be any question of Christian influence on Roman society or Roman law, woman had attained in the Empire a position of almost complete liberty and distinction” (22).

            Things were different under Christianity, which McCabe addresses in the third chapter of his work. It was here, in “Woman in the Early Christian Teaching”, that Joyce found most of the notes that would make it into Ulysses. McCabe looks first at the Old Testament with its “primitive Hebraic image of woman that from the year 400 onward cast an ever-deepening shadow over Christianity” (26). While women were clearly inferior in the old Jewish world, McCabe maintains that the current state of New Testament scholarship makes it impossible to say anything about Jesus’ opinion of women’s rights (27). Saint Paul’s teachings, on the other hand, were to have a much more far-reaching role in the development of Christian thinking.

            Because of their roots in philosophy, the Greek fathers had still been fairly positive towards women, but with the Latin fathers a “pious misogyny” became an integral part of Christianity (30). Tertullian and Cyprian peppered their writings with anti-woman pronouncements, but it was through Saint Augustine that “the teaching of the Old Testament and St. Paul with regard to woman entered into the social life of Europe” (30). The author of the Confessiones in his commentary on the book of Genesis could not even why women had been created in the first place. Not as a companion, surely: “how much better two men could live and converse together than a man and a woman” (30-31). The real reason for the creation of women can only be understood as part of God’s overall plan for mankind:


[Augustine] asks himself how this glorious being, as he has described Adam, could be deceived by the clumsy trickery of the serpent. Possibly, he goes on, God created a being of inferior intelligence and will—woman—with a view to the carrying-out of this pre-arranged drama of the Fall. (31) [view]


McCabe seems to draw here on Augustine’s exegetical work De Genesi ad Litteram / The Literal Meaning of Genesis. As a recent translation renders the text:


If Adam was a spiritual man, in mind though not in body, how could he have believed what was said through the serpent [...]? It is surely strange if a man endowed with a spiritual mind could have believed this. Was it because the man would not have been able to believe this that the woman was employed on the supposition that she had limited understanding, and also perhaps that she was living according to the spirit of the flesh and not according to the spirit of the mind? (XI, 42; 175) [1]


McCabe then moves, almost immediately, to a consideration of two other important Latin fathers, Ambrose and Jerome:


St. Ambrose does not, indeed, show any deliberate contempt. Woman must be obedient, but not servile, to her husband. In one place he makes an amusing attempt to find a ground for the restriction of her work and education. She is more fitted for bodily work, he says, because “remember that God took a rib out of Adam’s body, not a part of his soul, to make her”. And when he is asked why she must veil herself in the churches, while her husband does not, he answers, because “she was not made to the image of God, like man”. (31) [view]


The basis of the Ambrosian claim is likely the bishop’s De Paradiso or On Paradise. Ralph Hennings writes:


In treating the story of Eve’s creation in his De paradiso Ambrose expressed himself even more clearly. The creation of Eve’s body with the help of Adam’s rib is distinguished from the creation of Eve’s soul which cannot be brought forth by the flesh. Adam does not see “soul from his soul” but “bones from his bones and flesh from his flesh” (cf. Gen 2,23). For Ambrose this is the way human beings are generated; De paradiso 11,50-51 CSEL 32,1 307,22-25. (260 n. 6)


The result of the patristic writings was that the Councils in the fifth century “began to close the door of the ministry effectually against women” and at the council of Macon in 585 there was even a bishop who did not believe that women have a soul (McCabe 32).



Tolle lege: McCabe in “Telemachus”         



Joyce draws synthetically on McCabe’s third chapter for the notebook with purple-grey marbled covers that is now at the National Library of Ireland:


S. Aug. W inferior deceived by S

S. Amb. veil in church made out

of Adam’s body not in image

of god

            (NLI MS 36,639/5A, p. [13r] | “1. Telemachus” lines 14-17) [view]


This two-part crib was worked onto the proofs of the episode in late August and early September 1921. It elaborates Stephen’s silent scornful consideration of the milk-woman, thereby lending his contempt the authority of the church fathers—a very “pious misogyny” indeed, in McCabe’s phrase (30). The synoptic edition of this portion of the text is reproduced below and combines additions made to Placard II and Page Proof 1.3, here coloured red and green, respectively, to accord with Joyce’s crayon cancelations. The old woman “bows her old head” (U 1.418),


To the voice that will shrive and oil for the grave all there is of her but her woman’s unclean ┌4[loins.] loins, of man’s flesh made not in God’s ┌5[likeness.] likeness, the serpent’s prey.5┐4┐ And to the loud voice that now bids her be silent with wondering unsteady eyes. (U-G 26; JJA 17.112 & 22.62. Now U 1.420-23) 


The only reference to veils or veiling in the episode is to Stephen’s confrontation with Mulligan on the parapet of the tower—“Pulses were beating in his eyes, veiling their sight, and he felt the fever of his cheeks” (U 1.225-26)—which had been part of the text of “Telemachus” since at least the Rosenbach Manuscript of 1917. But the allusions to Augustine and Ambrose have been so finely stitched that neither theologian, much less his mediating freethinker, is discernible in the published episode. The two are distinguished, however, by their proximity in the source text, Joyce’s notebook, and, ultimately, the text of “Telemachus”. Less than two hundred words separate the block quotations given above in Chapter 3 of The Religion of Woman (in the red-backed volume the two-column format arranges them side-by-side [view]); the notebook recordings are immediate neighbours. Two discrete elements from a single page of McCabe were thus brought into even closer proximity on the notebook recto, an intimacy which held fast as Joyce went over his gleanings in two rounds of harvesting. Joyce’s metaphor for this deliberate process whereby material contiguity produces textual association is a metallurgical one: “The elements needed will only fuse after a prolonged existence together,” he told Harriet Shaw Weaver on 20 July 1919 (L1: 128). He repeated this language for larger compositional units at the outset of the Wake years: “these are not fragments but active elements and when they are more and a little older they will begin to fuse of themselves” (L1: 205, letter to Weaver of 9 October 1923).

But is the weld also Stephen’s? Joyce’s willingness to work from secondary sources and to scout primers and textbooks for shortcuts and quoteworthy material is well documented. “Oxen of the Sun”, famously, teems not with the literature it compacts but with anthologies that do much of that compacting for it (See Janusko, Downing; also Davison). Insofar as “[o]ne needs a pretty considerable knowledge of English literature to understand it”, as T. S. Eliot wrote admiringly of the “Oxen” typescript to Robert McAlmon in May 1920 (450), writing the episode was an altogether less learned enterprise. In a similar spirit of pragmatism, Joyce found the Quinet sentence he would refract throughout the Wake in Léon Metchnikoff (Landuyt and Lernout 102).

Scarlett Baron has noted that in this embrace of the second-hand “Joyce replicates the ways of Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (259). Stephen’s knowledge of Aquinas, Jacques Aubert argues, comes not from an immersion in scholasticism, but by way of Bernard Bosanquet’s 1892 A History of Aesthetic (107). No less derivatively, the explicit reference to Plato that colours the debate with Lynch in Chapter V of A Portrait—“Plato, I believe, said that beauty is the splendour of truth” (P 208)—is lifted from an 1857 letter of Flaubert’s to his friend Mlle Leroyer de Chantepie (CW, 83 n. 3; see also Baron 84-89). In the case of Ulysses, allowing Stephen a familiarity, however anachronistic, with McCabe’s 1905 study goes some way to truing the lopsided economy of quotation that saw Joyce translate his reading into, here, a bare ten words of the published text of “Telemachus”. While there is something arresting to the thought that Joyce drew such a meagre yield from McCabe as, say, fifty words of Ulysses all told (further debts are tallied below), a knowledge of the source can be read profitably back into the text. Stephen freewheels between two of the four Great Doctors of the Western Church in a single heartbeat of interior monologue, fleeing to the egregii doctores at an imagined slight from the milk-woman. But his recourse to theological learning is ironized by the poverty of his reading: like another bright young man, Stanislaus Joyce, he has simply consulted a “cheap [edition] published by the Rationalist Press Association” (102). [2] Furthermore, at this juncture he is also not even a particularly good reader. He condones and takes on board the anti-woman sentiments that McCabe does his best to condemn. Stephen reproduces the church fathers’ misogyny but elides the context of critique in which he has encountered it.

The uncovering of Stephen’s shaky knowledge is not all bad, however. For one thing, it crowns him the victor in another skirmish with his tower-mate. If Mulligan has at his command a lexical calling card of the new century’s freethinking young Turks, “gaseous vertebrate” (U 9.487), Stephen displays an altogether deeper knowledge of rationalist literature. Mulligan flaunts a token phrase that, however much it might bristle with controversy, is so widely distributed as to be on the tongue of every young man out to shock. Stephen defeats his rival “in here” (U 15.4436) not by capping the quotation but by using McCabe to get to two weightier authorities—Augustine’s De Genesi ad Litteram and Ambrose’s De Paradiso trump Haeckel’s Die Welträthsel—and, more crucially, by integrating them into his interior monologue and his own idiom. McCabe’s fleeting cameo in the Martello kitchen precedes his explicit quotation in the librarian’s office, even if, compositionally, this element within Stephen’s interior monologue postdates the Buck’s flamboyant entrance; the translation from Haeckel appears as a marginal addition to the 1918 draft of “Scylla and Charybdis” that is now at the National Library. [3] As such, McCabe is the medium by which Joyce has Stephen deflate Mulligan six (fictional) hours before and three (real) years after his gay interjection into the Hamlet debate.



Fiery Columbanus: McCabe in “Nestor”



The next entry on the “Telemachus”-headed page of the purple-grey notebook feeds into “Nestor”:


[…] S. Columbanus bestrides

prostrate form of mother

            (NLI MS 36,639/5A, p. [13r] | “1. Telemachus” lines 17-18) [view]


This is the notebook antecedent of an addition made on Placard IV sometime between late August and very early September 1921. The paragraph is otherwise unaltered at proof stage, as the synoptic edition makes clear:


Ugly and futile: lean neck and thick hair and a stain of ink, a snail’s bed. Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a squashed boneless snail. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life? ┌4His mother’s prostrate body the fiery Columbanus in holy zeal bestrode.4┐ She was no more: the trembling skeleton of a twig burnt in the fire, an odour of rosewood and wetted ashes. She had saved him from being trampled underfoot and had gone, scarcely having been. A poor soul gone to heaven: and on a heath beneath winking stars a fox, red reek of rapine in his fur, with merciless bright eyes scraped in the earth, listened, scraped up the earth, listened, scraped and scraped. (U-G 54; JJA 17.130. Now U 2.139-50)


Four lines on the notebook recto were cancelled in red crayon as Joyce incorporated his sainted gleanings into “Telemachus” and “Nestor” on Placards II and IV, respectively. The two Roman-numeraled proofs are part of a run of eleven supplementary placards that Maurice Darantiere pulled in late August. While the dating is uncertain, one can reasonably extrapolate Joyce working simultaneously with the two oversized galley proofs, judging where best to insert his borrowed terms and recondite allusions.

The source of the Columbanus addition is Chapter IV of The Religion of Woman. McCabe calls “the abyss of the Middle Ages” the thousand years between the fifth and the fifteen centuries during which the treatment of women was no better than—and, indeed, modelled on—the previous patristic age (34-35).


The extravagances of the Fathers were repeated with terrible emphasis in the Middle Ages. St. Jerome and St. Augustine had urged their friends to thrust aside their mothers with stern disdain. St. Columban, accordingly, stepped over the prostrate form of his mother as she clung to the door-posts to keep him from the dreaded monastery. St. Elizabeth of Thuringia sent her children away because the love of them interfered with her spiritual growth; she was content when at last she could look on them with the same indifference as on other children. (38; emphasis added) [view]


Inasmuch as Joyce’s source has only come to light since the Joyce Papers 2002 were made available, it has, nevertheless, long been known that Stephen here alludes to a mother’s reluctance to let her son leave home (e.g. Gifford 22). As early as 1948, Howard Emerson Rogers had spotted the reference to intergenerational conflict.[4] Furthermore, on the strength of the inclusion of Columbanus in both “Nestor” and “Proteus”, the critic had proposed him as a type for Stephen: “the loss of the mother, the school, the impending exile, is the pattern of Stephen’s own life as it was, in fact, of Joyce’s during 1903 and 1904” (314).

The insertion onto the “Nestor” placard specifies, through an example drawn from the lives of the saints, Stephen’s candidate for “The only true thing in life” (U 2.143), a mother’s love. Knowing McCabe helped him “at that stile” (U 9.386) is to know that Stephen has shifted the freethinker’s emphasis from the hard-hearted saint to the loving mother, an accent in keeping with his lingering guilt over having refused to kneel and pray at his mother’s deathbed.

The addition also illuminates some of the pronominal ambiguity of the passage. “She had loved his weak watery blood” (U 2.142-43) refers to Sargent’s mother and to Sargent. In the Little Review serial publication, this is followed more closely by “She was no more” (U 2.144-45), which, despite the absence of a clarifying substantive, presumably denotes Stephen’s mother (on the basis of the “odour of rosewood and wetted ashes” [U 2.145-46; reworking U 1.104-5]). But since the interpolated “His mother’s prostate body” (U 2.143-44) cannot but conjure Stephen’s own mother, the placard addition provides an associative antecedent for the latter “She” while at the same time introducing a measure of distance from Sargent’s mother. That Stephen resorts to pronominal ambiguity to skirt troubling memories is clear from the repeated imagery of a child trampled underfoot in the passage. In the first of these, “him”, “a squashed boneless snail”, refers to Sargent (U 2.141-42). In the second, “She had saved him from being trampled underfoot” (U 2.146-47), “him”, despite its third person, is Stephen’s distancing self-reference.

Joyce’s notebook “bestrides” introduces a series of further pluralities, on a par with Stephen’s declensionally ambiguous “amor matris” (U 2.165). Rendered as a simple past in the addition to “Nestor”, the word is a fair substitution for the “stepped over” of McCabe’s text. The OED sense 4 has “To stride across, to step across with long strides”. A more immediate acceptation introduces an equestrian note: “to bestride” is to ride or mount a horse or to sit across as on a horse. Indeed, when the word recurs in Ulysses it is with precisely this connotation. In “Circe” the Honourable Mrs. Mervyn Talboys reveals Bloom’s epistolary exhortation to her “to bestride and ride him” (U 15.1072). The same episode also wickedly literalizes Stephen’s unintended imagery when Bello “horserides” Bloom “cockhorse” (U 15.2946-47). [5]

Moreover, Stephen’s verb choice is as likely to invoke an image of immobility as one of motion because “to bestride” can mean simply to stand over a fallen person. [6] Even as he imagines himself a Columbanus masterfully pushing on past his distraught mother, Stephen’s interior monologue undercuts that dynamism and resolve; he is arrested, both linguistically and on the threshold (“shamefast” is a useful cognate here), just as the past event behind all his obfuscity, the refusal to kneel, continues to exert a hold over him. Like Bloom that same morning, “[i]n the act of going he stayed” (U 4.308-9).

These acceptations at loggerheads—a travelling without moving, a parting that stands still—recur in a genetically inflected reading of Columbanus’ other mention in the “Telemachiad”. The line “Missionary to Europe after fiery Columbanus” (U 3.192-93) was part of the text of “Proteus” since at least the Rosenbach Manuscript of 1918 but the insertion into “Nestor” reprioritizes significantly the terms of Stephen’s Sandymount Strand interior monologue:


You were going to do wonders, what? Missionary to Europe after fiery Columbanus. ┌(2)Fiacre and Scotus on their creepystools in heaven spilt from their pintpots, loudlatinlaughing: Euge! Euge!(2)┐ Pretending to speak broken English as you dragged your valise, porter threepence, across the slimy pier at Newhaven. Comment? Rich booty you brought back; ┌(2)Le Tutu,(2)┐ five tattered numbers of Pantalon Blanc et Culotte Rouge; a blue French telegram, curiosity to show:

—Nother dying come home father. (U-G 84. Now U 3.192-99)


So much of the conversation about Joyce’s work on the proofs emphasizes the scale and character of the additions that he made to the text. An understandable stress; the paragraph of interior monologue above expanded by almost 30% between the Little Review serialization and the first Shakespeare and Company edition, making for a local instance of the statistic put forward by Richard Ellmann that “[t]he book grew by one third in proof” (JJII 513). But just as worthy of scrutiny is the manner in which additions made to other parts of the text “revise” pre-existing material that is otherwise unaltered. Here, the change made to the previous episode brings May Dedalus into Stephen’s interior monologue from the outset of the passage. The apparent repetition of “fiery Columbanus” from “Nestor” incorporates—the only word for it—May’s “prostrate body” into Stephen’s evangelizing daydream long before his father’s telegram reaches him. If readers of the telegram, beginning with the “Proteus” typist, have tended to undo its opening transmissional departure (a process encapsulated in “Another”, as viable a contender as “Mother” for Simon Dedalus’ intended message), genetic readers might also uncover a scrambled “Nestor” in the French telegraphist’s “Nother”.



Derived Thomism: McCabe in “Proteus”



Sources, too, can bestride the text they contribute to. While we have focused on Joyce’s use of McCabe as a route into character in Ulysses, it also has something to say about quotation more generally.

Chapter IV of The Religion of Woman, “Woman in the Middle Ages”, continues with McCabe’s analysis of attitudes to female sexuality and sexual behaviour. He looks at the lives of women of all stations in life in the Middle Ages, taking into account the role of nunneries and of chivalry.


Peter Lombard, one of the most weighty of the schoolmen, laid it down that it was a venial sin only for married folk to have intercourse, when children were impossible, for the purpose of avoiding incontinence, but a mortal sin to do it for the pleasure alone. St. Thomas, and practically all of the theologians, held (and hold to-day) that the pleasure attaching to procreation was not part of God’s original design, but a direct consequence of sin. A woman was made to kneel outside the church to be “purified” after child-birth before she could again share in the worship. (40)[view]


In the same notebook with plain blue covers that contains “the Golden / City that is to be”, Joyce draws on the paragraph above for the note “S. Thomas held lustful pleasure product of original sins” (NLI MS 36,639/4, p. [2r] | “Proteus” line 1) [view]. The element is, in all likelihood, the source of an addition to the second pulling of Gathering 4, made in mid-August 1921:


Morose delectation Aquinas tunbelly calls this, frate porcospino. ┌3Unfallen Adam rode and not rutted.3┐ Call away let him: thy quarrons dainty is. Language no whit worse than his. Monkwords, marybeads jabber on their girdles: roguewords, tough nuggets patter in their pockets. (U-G 96; JJA 22.199. Now U 3.385-88) [7]


Aquinas had been present in the paragraph since at least the Rosenbach Manuscript of 1918, but what is particularly interesting here is that not a single word of Joyce’s note, much less McCabe’s source text, is in the addition. “God’s original design” becomes “original sin” becomes “Unfallen Adam”. “Language no whit worse than his” also describes Joyce’s reworking of McCabe. “Stephen no longer interests me to the same extent [as Bloom],” Joyce told Frank Budgen, after receiving some criticism about his new leading man. “He has a shape that can’t be changed” (107). Compositionally, to have a shape that cannot be changed means that Joyce’s borrowings for Stephen have to be rendered in an idiom that rings through to the character of A Portrait. Stephen rewrites quotation—or requires it to be rewritten. Bloom presents no such limitation; the only verbatim borrowing from McCabe that, thus far, seems to have made it into Ulysses is shoehorned into the novel with only the bare minimum of alteration.


McCabe’s book continues to survey the Christian attitude to women, where things improve somewhat for the fair sex in the renaissance, under the influence of the rediscovery of the Greek ideals, although McCabe does point out that the reformation, with its own return to Old Testament morality, was bound to be detrimental to women.

            Chapter VI moves to the “modern woman movement” and the role of the churches. The nineteenth century has been marked by “two tendencies—the decay of religion and the sturdy growth of justice and humanity” (50). In the American feminist movement McCabe notices that all the major figures were at least religiously heterodox and most of them had been called “infidel” at some point; their greatest adversaries had always been the orthodox churches (53). In England the women’s movement did have the support of some of the clergy. “But here, as everywhere else, heretics and Freethinkers gave the impulse to the reform, and the clergy generally opposed it” (54). On the continent the same can be seen, so McCabe can conclude this chapter by saying that “the suggestion that gratitude is due to the Church from women is little short of grotesque” (59).

            Next McCabe looks at “The Religious Instinct”. If the “familiar visitor from Mars” were to look at the role of women in the church, he would conclude that women have “a stronger and more imperious” religious instinct than men (59). McCabe then proceeds to demonstrate that there is no such thing. Religion is transmitted via children and most women seem to believe that it is impossible to educate one’s children without Christian teaching, an idea that McCabe proceeds to dismiss. The book concludes with three chapters on the current situation of religion. Serious Christian scholars are giving up some of the central dogmas such as the virgin birth, or the reliability of the gospel accounts, while poets and philosophers who are still religious have adopted pantheistic views. In the final chapter McCabe describes “humanism” as a valid alternative to religion—“The abandonment of the old beliefs is a world-movement” (85)—and the book ends with his appeal to female readers of the work.


The Religion of Woman was by no means a major source. In the writing of Ulysses it came late and it provided Joyce with just a few snippets of information that he could add at a late stage to relatively complete episodes. But his use of the book does demonstrate that even as late as 1921 reading for Stephen was a fundamentally different enterprise to reading for Bloom.






Works Cited.


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Baron, Scarlett. “Strandentwining Cable”: Joyce, Flaubert, and Intertextuality. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Bloom, Abigail Burnham. Nineteenth-century British Women Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Budgen, Frank. James Joyce and the Making of “Ulysses”, and Other Writings. London: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Clark, Elizabeth A. Women in the Early Church. Wilmington, Del.: M. Glazier, 1983.

Cooke, Bill. A Rebel to his Last Breath: Joseph McCabe and Rationalism. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2001.

Crispi, Luca. “A First Foray into the National Library of Ireland’s Joyce Manuscripts: Bloomsday 2011.” Genetic Joyce Studies 11 (Spring 2011).

Crowley, Ronan. “‘His Dark Materials’: Joyce’s ‘Scribblings’ and the Notes for ‘Circe’ in the National Library of Ireland.” Genetic Joyce Studies 6 (Spring 2006).

Davison, Sarah. “Joyce’s Incorporation of Literary Sources in ‘Oxen of the Sun.’” Genetic Joyce Studies 9 (Spring 2009).

Downing, Gregory. “Joyce’s ‘Oxen of the Sun’ Notesheets: A Transcription and Sourcing of the Stylistic Entries.” Genetic Joyce Studies 2 (Spring 2002).

Eliot, T.S. The letters of T.S. Eliot. Ed. Valerie Eliot. Vol. 1. 1898-1922. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.

Gifford, Don, with Robert J. Seidman. Notes for Joyce: An Annotation of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. New York: Dutton, 1974.

Haldeman-Julius, Emanuel. My Second 25 Years: Instead of a Footnote, an Autobiography. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1949.

Henkes, Robbert-Jan, “On the Verge of the Wake: Joyce’s Reading in Notebook VI.B.10.” Joyce Studies Annual (2011): 122-161.

Hennings, Ralph. “Disputatio de origine animae (CPL 623, 37)—or the Victory of Creatianism in the Fifth Century.” Studia patristica. Ed. Elizabeth A. Livingstone. Vol. 29. Papers presented at the Twelfth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 1995. Leuven: Peeters, 1997, 260-268.

Hogan, Patrick Colm. Joyce, Milton, and the Theory of Influence. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995.

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– – –. Help My Unbelief: James Joyce and Religion. London; New York: Continuum, 2010.

McCabe, Joseph. The Religion of Woman: An Historical Study. London: Watts & Co., 1905.

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[1] Elizabeth A. Clark provides a version closer to McCabe: “how could he [Adam] have believed what the serpent said? […] [W]oman was given to man, woman who was of small intelligence and who perhaps still lives more in accordance with the promptings of the inferior flesh than by the superior reason” (40).

[2] Stanislaus recalls reading Renan’s Vie de Jésus in “the cheap translation published by the Rationalist Press Association” in his posthumous My Brother’s Keeper (102).

[3] NLI MS 36,639/8/B, p. [4r]. For more on the dating of the copybook, see Crispi.

[4] Rogers supposes that the incident in the saint’s vita was encountered in “Joyce’s Catholic education” and proposes The Life of St. Columban (1915) by Helena Walsh, writing as “Mrs. Concannon”, as the immediate source (314).

[5] Less explicitly, the passage of interior monologue recurs at the close of “Circe” when Stephen’s is the “prostrate form” over which Bloom stands guard (U 15.4927).

[6] This meaning is further distinguished by exultant (sense 2b) and protective (sense 2c) subsenses: “To stand over, as a victor over the fallen” versus “To stand over a fallen man in order to defend him”. May bestrides her son in the latter sense; Stephen, as Columbanus, bestrides May in the former sense. In more ways than one, then, Stephen has let his mother down.

[7] Patrick Colm Hogan favours Miltonic parallels in his reading of the line (138).