Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Writing in the style of...

Edna O'Brien begins her biography of James Joyce (in the Penguin Lives series) in this way:

Once upon a time there was a man coming down a road in Dublin and he gave himself the name of Dedalus the sorcerer, constructor of labyrinths and maker of wings for Icarus who flew so close to the sun that he fell, as the apostolic Dubliner James Joyce would fall deep into a world of words — from the "epiphanies" of youth to the epistomadologies of later years.

James Joyce, poor joist, a funnominal man, supporting a gay house in a slum of despond. His name derived from the Latin and meant joy but at times he thought himself otherwise — a jejune Jesuit spurning Christ's terrene body, a lecher, a Christian brother in luxuriousness, a Joyce of all trades, a bullock-befriending bard, a peerless mummer, a priestified kinchite, a quill-frocked friar, a timoneer, a pool-beg flasher and a man with the gift of the Irish majuscule script."

Totally Joycean, though it could easily be read as a parody rather than a eulogy.

There seems a bit of confusion about O'Brien's birth date: in the Wikipedia entry, she's listed within a few lines as having been born in both 1930 and 1932 (!) The Encyclopaedia Britannica lists her birth date as 1930, but the Writer's Almanac says 1932. Either way she's a good deal older than she appears in the photo above.


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