Author Kevin Birmingham's new book on James Joyce's Ulysses is being attacked by professional Joyce scholars, particularly in Ireland and the United Kingdom, over its claim that Joyce suffered from syphilis, in spite of the fact that Birmingham assembles plenty of evidence, says a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jonathan Goldman. Apparently Birmingham is some sort of heretic. Excerpt:
Luca Crispi, of University College Dublin, is particularly displeased. He lambasted Birmingham when interviewed for an article in the Sunday Times: “There’s no argument there; [Birmingham] just simply says things, weaves them together. … It’s more like historical fiction than fact.” He continues, at some length, and apparently, in some heat, impugning Birmingham’s methods and motivations; according to the article, Crispi considers the syphilis argument as the sort of claim ”used to sell books.” (As if anyone believes the best way to sell books is to write about Ulysses.) Crispi does not impugn Birmingham’s evidence—an immense amount of research detailed in his endnotes.
Hat tip, Arthur Hlavaty.